Jordi Alba will return to the starting lineup when Barcelona and Manchester United meet in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Barcelona will look to take a step closer to the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 when they welcome Manchester United to Spotify Camp Nou on Thursday night. And Xavi Hernandez does not have any new roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Sergio Busquets (ankle) and Ousmane Dembele (thigh) remain on the sidelines due to their respective injuries. Otherwise, Xavi has a full-strength squad at his disposal ahead of the game against Manchester United.

Xavi did not discuss any team news updates during his pre-match press conference. Instead, he addressed questions surrounding the in-form Marcus Rashford and how he plans to neutralise the Manchester United attacker.

The Barcelona boss said, “I don’t like to talk about these things. There are several players, not just Rashford. They are distinguished in transitions and counter-attacks, and we have to stop them. Araujo is a leader, regardless of his physical, technical, and tactical conditions.”

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“He prints his personality on the defensive line with leadership, and he has all the capabilities to make a mark at the club. Rashford is one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe right now. We have to pay close attention to the whole team, but especially Rashford.”

Jules Kounde will be in-charge of keeping Rashford quiet. And Ronald Araujo will retain his spot in the central defensive partnership alongside Andreas Christensen. But the defensive unit should see one change, with Jordi Alba replace Alejandro Balde at left-back. Meanwhile, there is no looking past Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the sticks.

As for the midfield unit, Franck Kessie will earn another start in Busquets’s absence. But Frenkie de Jong will sit at the base of the trifecta, with Kessie and Pedri being the workhorses in the middle of the park.

Meanwhile, as is the case in most big games, Xavi will employ four midfielders. So Gavi will take up the advanced position on the left flank. And finally, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha will complete the offensive unit. That leaves Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres on the bench as backup options.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; Pedri, de Jong, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi

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