The La Liga season resumes this weekend, with Barcelona hosting Valencia on Sunday night.
Ronald Koeman’s men have endured a horrid start to the campaign, suffering humiliation on more than one occasion. The Dutchman’s position in the dugout is under threat more than ever following a calamitous 3-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League, and 2-0 degrading to Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
La Blaugrana currently sit ninth in the table, a place below their opponents on Sunday night. Valencia have also disappointed in the early stages of the season, currently enduring a torrid run of form. Los Che have failed to win in four La Liga games, losing to Real Madrid and Sevilla before most recently drawing with Athletic Club and Cadiz.
Here’s the side Koeman could opt for on Sunday.
Barcelona predicted lineup vs Valencia - La Liga
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – Hard for the German to keep any clean sheets with such a flimsy defence in front of him, but he needs to recapture the match-saving form he regularly showed last term.
Sergino Dest (RB) – The full-back scored a stunning first goal for his country as the USMNT beat Costa Rica 2-1 on Wednesday night – or Thursday morning, depending on where you’re from – so could be in line for a start for Barca.
Gerard Pique (CB) – For one of the supposed leaders of this young group, Pique really must step up and improve his performances. Needs to be a general-like presence to lead his colleagues to a crucial three points on Sunday.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – Ronald Araujo sustained an injury while on international duty, meaning a fight between Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti and Eric Garcia to start alongside Pique. There could be a rare opportunity for Lenglet, whose knee troubles have somewhat eased up recently.
Jordi Alba (LB) – Could be in line to make his full return from injury against his former employers.
Sergio Busquets (DM) – Impressed at the base of the Spanish midfield during the Nations League Finals and will hope to continue that form and put previously leggy Barca displays behind him.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – An integral component in La Blaugrana’s all-round play when on song, boasting the quality and intelligence to single-handedly dictate a game.
Gavi (CM) – With Pedri seemingly out of contention against Valencia, 17-year-old Gavi will likely keep his place. Was immense for Spain during the international break.
Philippe Coutinho (RW) – Possesses undeniable quality but really needs to start showcasing it.
Memphis Depay (ST) – Doing everything he can to produce the talismanic performances that will earn his side wins, and will aim to build on his three La Liga strikes when Valencia come to town.
Ansu Fati (LW) – It’s been a long road back for Fati. The 18-year-old has looked bright in his brief cameos since returning to fitness and it could be time for a first start in nearly a year for the seeming heir to Lionel Messi.