Barcelona’s squad’s average age has gone from 26.52 to 25.5 years old after the summer transfer window. On that side, Gérard Piqué, born in February 1987, is the oldest at 33 years old, and Pedri, the exciting wonderkid, is the youngest at 17 years old. This rejuvenation of the squad has been well received by the Culés who were fed up with seeing the same heavyweights getting their way with little to no effort.
For example, last February when Barcelona faced Napoli in Naples, the Blaugranas lined up with one of the oldest Champions League squads in their history with an average of 28.3 years old. With players like Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, and Arturo Vidal gone, the squad has been rejuvenated and even Sergiño Dest is six years younger than Nélson Semedo, who he replaced at Camp Nou.
However, even if the squad is younger, the board is still short-sighted as the squad could’ve been much younger had Arthur and Pjanic not changed allegiances last summer. The board confirmed the deal was to balance the books and, while the rejuvenation was needed and is appreciated, this shouldn’t be a reason for them to clear themselves from everything that has happened under Josep Maria Bartomeu’s tenure.
Official: Barcelona starting lineup to face Elche — Koeman makes five changes
Barcelona will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they host Elche at the Camp Nou for the rescheduled round one fixture. Ronald Koeman has heavily rotated his team for this encounter, making five changes to the team that took on Cadiz on the weekend.
The first of these changes comes in the heart of the defence, with Samuel Umtiti coming in to replace Clement Lenglet, starting alongside Gerard Pique. Oscar Mingueza gets a start as well, but it is at right-back instead of Sergino Dest. Jordi Alba retains his spot at the left-back position, while Marc-Andre Ter Stegen holding the gloves.
Sergio Busquets had a fairly decent game against Cadiz, but sees himself on the bench with Miralem Pjanic starting as the anchor. Beside him, Frenkie De Jong and Pedri will be acting as interiors as they have so often this season.
There are two changes in the attack as well, with Fransisco Trincao getting a well-deserved start on the right-wing, replacing Ousmane Dembele. Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite. Lionel Messi will spearhead the team hoping to keep his goal-scoring run alive.
Confirmed XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; de Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Trincao, Messi, Braithwaite
Koeman seems to have played all his cards all at once for this game, replacing every other player on the pitch. While Mingueza truly deserved a place in the XI today, it should have been at centre-half instead of Umtiti, who put in a heart-wrenching display against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey no more than two weeks back.