The next challenge for FC Barcelona this season is upon them in the Primera Division. As the La Liga title race tenses up, so does the schedule and difficulty of games. For Barcelona, their very next opponent in the Spanish league is none other than Deportivo Alaves.
Led by Luis Garcia as their head coach, Alaves have not enjoyed the very best of seasons. Currently in 11th place on the La Liga table, the Spanish side knows that every point they earn is valuable for them. With this match scheduled to take place at their home ground, Barcelona will need to be extra cautious.
Here is how the Catalan giants could line up against Alaves.
Goalkeeper: Inaki Pena
The return of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is imminent, and quite fast approaching. Thus, these are the final minutes of seeing Inaki Pena as a starter for Barcelona. The Spaniard will at least want to end his starting days in style, and help Barcelona maintain a clean sheet like last time out.
Right-back: Jules Kounde
Despite not being his natural position, Jules Kounde remains a solid fullback on the right flank. Able to provide great cover and support to the team’s right-wingers, he provides great defensive output as well as creativity on the flank too.
Centre-back: Ronald Araujo
In terms of leadership and defensive ability, few players compare to Ronald Araujo. The Uruguayan defender continues to be the primary pillar of Barça’s defensive structure, and a lot of the team’s performances in defense rely on his individual showcases.
Centre-back: Pau Cubarsi
The 17-year-old central defender is already showcasing his best traits off to the world. His sublime passing, composure, and ability to handle pressure is almost unheard of at his tender age. However, he remains one of the best defenders that Barça can count on right now, and that itself is a huge achievement.
Left-back: Joao Cancelo
In terms of skill and talent, very few fullbacks in the world can compare to Joao Cancelo. The Portuguese fullback is a man of great quality and versatility, and it was his exceptional creativity from the left flank last time out that got Barcelona the victory over Osasuna.
CDM: Frenkie De Jong
Despite some less-than-eye-catching performances recently, Frenkie De Jong continues to help the team. His current role in the team does not allow him to dribble forward as much as he would like, but he continues to stick by it.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan
The German veteran continues to be a great example of exemplary decision-making. In almost every instance that Ilkay Gundogan has the ball at his feet, he already knows what he is gonna be doing with it. His presence in this Barcelona team should greatly help Xavi’s side.
The young magician has the capability of bailing Barcelona out of danger and pressure in the blink of an eye. Following his injury, he has gradually been recovering his best form. Thankfully, now at his sublime best, he can help Barcelona more than ever.
Right-winger: Lamine Yamal
After a quiet game against Osasuna thanks to the defensive work of Mojica, Lamine Yamal will want to recover his best version against Alaves. A sublime talent, at the age of 16 no less, Yamal has all the traits required to be an elite footballer.
Centre-forward: Robert Lewandowski
There is no regularity in the play of Robert Lewandowski this season. At times, he showcases glimpses of his elite finishing, while on other occasions he becomes a frustrating hurdle for Barcelona themselves. Xavi will be hoping he shows his better version this time around.
Left-winger: Vitor Roque
With both Joao Felix and Ferran Torres out injured for some time simultaneously, this could be the perfect opportunity for Vitor Roque. Already the hero against Osasuna in the last game, he now knows the taste of scoring goals for La Blaugrana, and he will be hungry for more.