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Three Barcelona players in line to start their first game of the season vs Victoria Plzen

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona begin their new UEFA Champions League campaign with a home game against Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, September 7.

With the line of fixtures congested as ever, manager Xavi is rightly expected to make a few changes to his regular XI. While this indeed remains their European opener, the 42-year-old will want to rest those who have been more active in the league.

This, mainly because between September 7 to September 17, Barcelona are scheduled to play four games; against Viktoria Plzen (home), Cadiz (away), Bayern Munich (away) and Elche (home).

Hence, squad rotation is well and truly a reality, and this will give those a perfect chance to feature who are yet to start a game under Xavi.

Having said that, here is a quick look at three players who are in line to start their first game of the 2022-23 football season.

Franck Kessie

Arriving from Milan on a free transfer, 25-year-old Franck Kessie has played his part in three league games out of four, albeit as a substitute. His appearances have been limited to the extent that he is yet to play more than 20 minutes in each of those three outings.

A home game against Viktoria Plzen, however, will give both the midfielder and Xavi a perfect chance to see how things work out. All this is because the Czech team are the only opponent against whom Xavi can experiment.

Furthermore, Kessie’s inclusion might as well force Xavi to work with a new-look midfield altogether as well. In any way, the Ivory Coast international is certain to gain more minutes on Thursday than he usually does.

Gerard Pique

Like Kessie, veteran defender Gerard Pique has been on the bench in each of Barcelona’s four league games. 

Unlike the former Milan midfielder, though, the 35-year-old is yet to play a single minute as the manager has mostly picked Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia as his preferred centre-back pair.

If Xavi is to rotate, Pique would expect to get a run-in, and so will Andreas Christensen.

Meanwhile, Jules Kounde is expected to keep his place, but one must note that the likes of Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will be available for selection as well. As for Pique, it will be interesting to see who he partners with at the heart of the defence.

Ansu Fati

Despite making four substitute appearances in the league, 19-year-old Ansu Fati has made quite an impact, scoring one goal and providing two assists. Interestingly enough, each of his three-goal contributions came against Real Sociedad in a 4-1 away win.

Up until now, the trio of Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha has been on par, but it goes without saying that they, too, need rest or fatigue will kick in.

Furthermore, with no Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the roster anymore, the attacking options will be limited anyway. This is a perfect and fair reason for Xavi to finally start Wednesday’s game with Fati in the line-up.

What is, in fact, interesting will be how the rest of the setup will look.

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