Barcelona will kickstart their 2019/20 La Liga campaign later this evening as they travel to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao. The Catalans have had an eventful summer transfer window so far. But, that shouldn’t distract them from once again asserting their dominance in the Spanish top flight this season, especially with Real Madrid going through a transitional phase.
Here is how Ernesto Valverde’s men could line up in their first league game of the campaign.
Formation: Since taking charge of Barcelona, Valverde has predominantly used a 4-3-3 setup, and the Spaniard is unlikely to make any changes to his formation this evening.
Marc Andre ter Stegen is a guaranteed pick in between the sticks for Barcelona. The German will need to remain sharp against an unpredictable Bilbao attack, however.
Nelson Semedo is expected to get the nod ahead of Sergi Roberto. This could turn out to be the breakout year the Portuguese international really wanted. And so he needs to make full use of this opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, Valverde may not risk starting with new signing Junior Firpo. Thus, we expect Jordi Alba to start at left-back. Gerard Pique, meanwhile, will be tasked with the responsibility of leading the Barcelona side in the absence of Lionel Messi.
The former Spanish international will play a key role at the heart of Barcelona’s four-man backline alongside Clement Lenglet.
Deploying Sergio Busquets at the base of the 4-3-3 is an absolute no-brainer. But, it remains to be seen whether Valverde would like to start with new signing Frenkie de Jong. The Dutchman wasn’t involved much in training this weekend. Therefore, we expect him to remain on the bench, with Roberto starting.
The Spaniard will pair up with Ivan Rakitic in a slightly advanced midfield role. However, it won’t be surprising to see De Jong featuring in as a substitute later on. Arturo Vidal is another option, but one Valverde is unlikely to take.
As mentioned earlier, Messi will be missing out the entirety of this month due to a calf injury. But, Barcelona fans will be excited to see marquee signing Antoine Griezmann make his La Liga debut for the club. The Frenchman is likely to operate as the left-sided winger.
Ousmane Dembele will occupy the opposite flank, with Luis Suarez spearheading the Barcelona attack. Later, we could expect the Uruguayan to be replaced by someone like Philippe Coutinho, in which case, Griezmann will shift into a central role with the Brazilian operating on the left.
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