Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez could hand Abde Ezzalzouli his full debut while Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong should also start against Espanyol.

Barcelona will be hoping to celebrate the start of a new era under new boss Xavi Hernandez with a victory when they play hosts to RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou in La Liga on Saturday night.

In his first game in charge, Xavi has several injury headaches to deal with as key men Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero and Pedri all remain unavailable for selection, while Martin Braithwaite is also sidelined. Sergino Dest is a doubt for the Catalan derby, while Dani Alves is ineligible to feature for the Blaugrana until January.

Barcelona vs Espanyol Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

Speaking of his roster issues on the eve of the game in his pre-match presser, Xavi said (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “Ansu, Dembele, Martin, and Kun are out of the squad list so we will have to count on the youngsters. But they are prepared, we have seen it at Barca B, we have seen it last Saturday. Of course there could be some surprises but I haven’t decided yet my starting XI.”

The 41-year-old Spaniard is expected to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The German shot-stopper will have protection from the backline consisting of Oscar Mingueza and Jordi Alba as the full-backs, with veteran star Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia slotting in as the centre-halves. However, Ronald Araujo is also an option.

Xavi has several options in the middle of the park but is expected to stick with two of his most experienced operators in Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong. This would mean that youngsters Gavi and Nico Gonzalez will vie for the remaining spot in midfield. The former could end up getting the nod after the manager was effusive in his praise during the press conference.

Moving into the attacking unit, Memphis Depay is a certain starter for Barcelona. The 27-year-old was in red-hot form for the Netherlands during the two-week international break and will hope to carry that momentum forward against Espanyol. He ought to slot in on the left flank, while Barcelona B starlet Abde Ezzalzouli could be handed his first start for the senior team on the right-wing.

Given the lack of options in the No. 9 role, Luuk de Jong could be in for a start, despite claims that he is not part of Xavi’s plans. Addressing those rumours surrounding the Dutchman, the Barcelona boss said, “We need all the available players. They all have to be important at Barça and they must be prepared to play. The same thing happens with Luuk.”

Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Mingueza, Pique, Garcia, Alba, Frenkie de Jong, Busquets, Gavi, Abde, Luuk de Jong, Memphis

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