Club football is back with a bang as this weekend promises a ton of interesting games across Europe. Manchester City host Liverpool, while Bayern Munich go head-to-head against Borussia Dortmund in a title-defining encounter.
Things are a bit tame back home in Spain, though. Barcelona are 12 points clear on top of La Liga, and they will be faced with the task of taking on 20th-placed Elche on Saturday night.
With Barcelona on 68 points, and Elche on a measly 13, this gap of 55 points is the largest between the 1st and 20th-placed sides in La Liga after 26 games. Ideally, on paper, this is not a competition, and the Catalans should not make it into one.
Xavi is without a fair few players in his travelling squad, with Ousmane Dembele and Pedri still sidelined. Andreas Christensen and Frenkie de Jong were the latest in this list to pick up injuries and are also missing.
Luckily, Ronald Araujo has been given the medical green light and will travel with the rest of the team to Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.
Ahead of the game, Barça Universal take a look at Barcelona could potentially line up in Gameweek 27.
Little to no doubt over the goalkeeping position as Marc-Andre ter Stegen takes the reins. He has been one of the best players in the league this season and will be hoping to keep his 20th clean sheet.
Araujo will likely be rested despite the absence of Christensen in the squad. This would give Jules Kounde the chance to start in central defence, with Eric Garcia expected to partner him at the back.
Alejandro Balde is in contention to start at left-back, but it seems more likely that Jordi Alba gets the nod in that role since the youngster was part of the Spanish national team during the international break. Sergi Roberto should round off the back four with a place at right-back.
As we move up to midfield, the choices get trickier with Frenkie de Jong and Pedri both out injured. However, this means Gavi is expected to start in his natural position in central midfield, likely partnering Franck Kessie.
Sergio Busquets will be looking to maintain his impressive form over the last few weeks with a starting place in defensive midfield.
Raphinha is suspended due to the accumulation of cards, which means Xavi has none of his two first-choice wingers available to face Elche. Ferran Torres put in an impressive shift on the right wing against Cadiz, and will get another chance to prove himself there tomorrow.
Ansu Fati is in line to get his 10th start of the season, with the left-wing open to his services. Robert Lewandowski will continue to spearhead the attack as the centre-forward.
Fati · Lewandowski · Torres
Gavi · Busquets · Kessie
Alba · Eric · Kounde · Roberto
With so many players missing, Pablo Torre will almost definitely get some minutes in midfield tomorrow. Xavi was all-praise for his attributes in his pre-game press conference, and should ideally back it up with some trust.
One or both of Estanis Pedrola and Angel Alarcon could be brought in to replace the existing attack, especially if Barcelona can stamp their authority on the scoreline early on.
Marcos Alonso and Alejandro Balde also remain in contention for some minutes, contributing largely varying skillsets to the table.