Predicted Barcelona lineup against Real Sociedad: Pique, Alves to return; Aubameyang up front

Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will return to the starting lineup when Barcelona and Real Madrid clash on Thursday.

Barcelona will be looking to end their two-game losing run when they lock horns with Real Sociedad at the Reale Arena on Thursday night. And Xavi Hernandez has been handed a twin boost on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Gerard Pique has overcome some physical discomfort to return to the travelling squad to take on Real Sociedad. At the same time, Ronald Araujo is available again after serving a one-match ban this past weekend against Cadiz. The duo’s return means Pedri (hamstring), Sergi Roberto (knee), and Ansu Fati (hamstring) are the only absentees for Barcelona.

During his pre-match press conference, Xavi Hernandez spoke on various topics, including Pique’s recent controversy. The Barcelona boss also provided an update on Dani Alves and Sergino Dest’s fitness while talking about Pedri and his importance to his team.

Xavi said, “Dani did not play the last game because he had some muscle discomfort. Dest was also suffering from physical fatigue. Pedri is an important player for me and the team. He is one of the best midfielders in the world given his age.”

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Xavi also spoke about the possibility of the Barcelona players lacking motivation, saying, “Motivating players is not easy when you are not fighting for trophies. We have to be humble and know that we are competing for second place. This is a sign that must be accepted.”

Pique and Araujo should return at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Eric Garcia and Clement Lenglet making way for them. With Alves fit and available, the veteran Brazilian defender should feature as the right-back, with Jordi Alba picking himself on the left flank. Behind the four defenders, there is no looking past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Up ahead in midfield, Xavi is unlikely to tinker much, with Sergio Busquets reprising the anchor role. Frenkie de Jong and Gavi will be the two creative midfielders, with Nico Gonzalez and Riqui Puig the backup midfielders for Barcelona.

Finally, Xavi has nearly all his resources available in the final third. The in-form Ousmane Dembele is an automatic pick on the right-wing, but Memphis Depay will vacate the central striker’s berth for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang will spearhead the Barcelona attack against Real Sociedad, with Ferran Torres completing the offensive unit on Thursday.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Araujo, Alba; Frenkie de Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Dembele, Aubameyang, Torres

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