Ansu Fati has been ruled out, but Gavi and Nico Gonzalez are in line to start when Barcelona face off against Deportivo Alaves in La Liga this weekend.
Barcelona will be aiming to get their season back on the correct course when they play hosts to Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou in their first game following the sacking of Ronald Koeman on Saturday night.
With Koeman being relieved of his duties earlier in the week, Barcelona have named B team boss Sergi Barjuan as the interim manager. The 49-year-old will be at the helm until a permanent replacement is identified. Barjuan has a few injury issues to contend with ahead of his first match in charge of the senior team.
Sergi Roberto picked up a muscle injury in the midweek loss to Rayo Vallecano, while Ansu Fati has not recovered sufficiently from his knee problem to make himself available. In addition, the likes of Martin Braithwaite, Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong also remain sidelined for the Catalan giants.
Addressing the media on Friday, Barjuan had said (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “Dembele is available so he could be called up. Ansu wasn’t in training so it’s impossible for tomorrow’s game. That’s the situation. If you train you have a chance to play but if you don’t you can’t.” Despite his claims regarding Ousmane Dembele, the Frenchman has not been named in the squad against Alaves.
There are unlikely to be any major tweaks to tactics or personnel made by the interim boss, considering that he has had just over a day to work with the team. So, Barcelona should line up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia are expected to slot in as the two centre-backs for the home team on Saturday night.
With Roberto unavailable and Sergino Dest being utilised higher up the pitch, Oscar Mingueza should get the nod at right-back while there is no looking past Jordi Alba at left-back. Captain Sergio Busquets will be the deepest of the three midfielders for the Blaugrana against Alaves.
Riqui Puig, who never really got much of an opportunity under Koeman, could be given some minutes by Barjuan. When asked about the La Masia graduate in his presser, the caretaker boss said, “In the end all the players that are available have a chance to play. I can’t base my decision on one training session. I have to see what the best options are for tomorrow’s game.”
However, given that Puig has not played much so far this season, he might not be involved from the start. Instead, Gavi, who has been the breakout star of the season, and Nico Gonzalez, who was a rare positive in the midweek, should partner Busquets in the centre of the park at Camp Nou this weekend.
In attack, as iterated earlier, Dest is likely to continue on the right-wing while Memphis Depay is certain to feature out on the left flank. Summer signing Sergio Aguero should lead the line for Barcelona against Alaves, with Luuk de Jong unlikely to be favoured.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen, Mingueza, Pique, Garcia, Alba, Gavi, Busquets, Nico, Dest, Aguero, Depay