This morning, the papers are focusing on two main fronts over in Catalonia: the winter transfer window and the upcoming derby after the international break. Barcelona have a big challenge ahead of them and another huge test for Ronald Koeman.
SPORT are saying that Riqui Puig doesn’t want to leave the club this January and is adamant on succeeding at the Camp Nou.
The La Masia prodigy cannot see himself anywhere else and is completely loyal to the club of his childhood. However, the likes of Benfica and Porto are showing some interest and Barcelona would like for the youngster to go on a loan, if possible.
Apart from that, SPORT also say that Sergio Busquets will be out this weekend due to an injury sustained while playing for Spain. Now, it’s time for Miralem Pjanić to shine against a very tough opponent.
Speaking of Atlético Madrid, Mundo Deportivo are reporting on Luis Suárez, saying the Uruguayan won’t face Barça since he has tested positive for COVID-19.
This is undoubtedly a big hit for the Rojiblancos and will delay the reunion for just a bit. Still, even with him out of the squad, Diego Simeone’s team is in red-hot form and Koeman will have to come up with something special to beat them.
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 Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite.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.