In preparation for Sunday’s challenging journey to meet Real Sociedad in the second round of La Liga, FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez will make adjustments to his team.
Frenkie de Jong or Miralem Pjanic might fill the void in midfield left by Sergio Busquets’ dismissal in the disappointing goalless tie that Barca played to open the new campaign, while Jordi Alba struggled last week and Balde might be given a chance.
Ronald Araujo moving into a more central place alongside Eric Garcia, as a result of Araujo appearing uneasy at right-back last week, allows Sergi Roberto to start in the Barca defence.
Due to financial fair play regulations, the club is still unable to add new recruit Jules Kounde to their roster, and Sergino Dest is on the way out as the team wants to cut costs on salaries, which limits Xavi’s options.
As part of Barca’s cost-cutting efforts, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Memphis Depay also appear to be more going out than coming in, according to Xinhua. Memphis Depay is expected to join Juventus, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is most likely to move to Chelsea in a deal that would see Marcos Alonso go the other way.
Along with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Ousmane Dembele, the attack will be led by Pedri, while Franck Kessie has options following a strong cameo last weekend.
Real Sociedad’s campaign got off to a winning start in Cadiz, and Imanol Alguacil’s team is aiming to reach Europe once more this year.
The Reale Arena will be a difficult test for the revamped Barca, who must win to prevent falling behind early in the title chase with Takefusa Kubo and Alexander Isak in their starting 11.
(Inputs from IANS)