Dembele, Fati start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could line up against Real Sociedad
Last week was a special one for FC Barcelona as they finally ended their three-season drought for the La Liga title. A 4-2 win over RCD Espanyol away from home secured the league crown for Xavi Hernandez & co. as they stretched their lead to an unassailable 14 points with four games left to be played.
On Saturday, Barcelona will take the pitch at Spotify Camp Nou as champions of Spain and will be awarded the La Liga trophy by RFEF President Luis Rubiales.
But before the celebrations can begin, the Blaugrana have the small matter of taking on Real Sociedad in the first of the remaining four games of the season.
Barcelona go into the game without two of their most important players in the form of Ronald Araujo and Pedri as the pair miss out due to minor discomforts. Meanwhile, Gavi is out of the contest as well as he is suspended for accumulation of yellow cards.
With the league title sewn up, Xavi could look to rotate his team, but at the same time, he will also want to win the game in front of the home fans before lifting the trophy. With that in mind, we take a look at how Barcelona could line up against Imanol Alguacil’s side.
There have been reports that Xavi wants to give Barcelona starlet Inaki Pena his La Liga debut in the remaining matches.
However, that will likely have to wait as Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be given another start so that he can match Francesco Liano’s record for most clean sheets in a single league season (26).
With Ronald Araujo ruled out, Eric Garcia is expected to step into the heart of the defence, where he will partner Andreas Christensen, who has been one of the unsung heroes of Barça’s title triumphs.
Out wide, Jules Kounde and Alejandro Balde should keep their places, although there may be temptation to start one of Jordi Alba or Marcos Alonso at left-back and provide the latter with a breather.
Moving into the centre of the park, Xavi will be without two of his key men in Pedri and Gavi. In their absence, Frenkie de Jong and Franck Kessie should take up the interior midfield positions on the pitch while captain Sergio Busquets ought to start as the pivot.
Robert Lewandowski remains seated at the top of the goalscoring charts in La Liga and will look to further consolidate his position in the Pichichi Trophy race with a goal or two against Real Sociedad.
Supporting the Poland captain in the final third should be Ousmane Dembele, who is in line to make his first start since returning from injury. The Frenchman should take up his customary slot on the right flank while Ansu Fati could get a rare start out on the left.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Kounde, Christensen, Garcia, Balde, de Jong, Busquets, Kessie, Dembele, Lewandowski, Fati
Pablo Torre should see more minutes in the remainder of the season, starting from tomorrow’s game against Real Sociedad. Ferran Torres is another player who will get a look-in at some stage in the game, along with fellow forward Raphinha.
Barcelona’s second and third captains, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba are also candidates to get some playing time at Spotify Camp Nou before the trophy is handed over.