Madrid, Spain | XINHUA | FC Barcelona looks to confirm its recovery following its 3-1 defeat at home to Real Madrid a week ago when it visits Alaves on Saturday evening.
Barca travels to the Basque Region after arguably its best performance of the season saw it win 2-0 away to Juventus in the Champions League and take a big step towards assuring qualification for the group stage of the competition.
The win in Turin came just a day after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as club president and it seems as if the departure of the unpopular Bartomeu acted as a stimulus to a team unhappy at his attempts to lower their wages for a second time due to the club’s economic situation.
Ronald Koeman’s men now need to start collecting points in La Liga after two defeats and a draw from their last three games. Koeman will be without Ronald Araujo in defense after it was confirmed the Uruguayan has suffered a hamstring injury and Gerard Pique will be back after missing out through suspension in midweek.
The coach has to decide whether or not to maintain Sergi Roberto at right-back or to give a chance to Sergino Dest in his preferred position, but arguably his biggest question marks are in midfield and attack after Miralem Pjanic gave an all-action display against Juventus, which only served to highlight Sergio Busquets’ lack of mobility against Real Madrid last weekend.
Busquets could start against Alaves, but it looks increasingly as if his physical decline will see his role in the side diminish over the coming weeks and months.
Elsewhere Ousmane Dembele impressed in his favorite role on the right in midweek and could continue, while Antoine Griezmann also got a lot more involved playing in a deeper role behind Leo Messi.
17-year-old Pedri also captured the headlines with an assured and creative display and Koeman will have to decide whether to stick with the youngster or put 18-year-old Ansu Fati in on the left of the attack.
Alaves won 2-0 away to Valladolid last weekend to lift some pressure off coach Pablo Machin and have attacking talent in Lucas Perez, Joselu and Deyverson, who is always a handful for defenders, although the side is still struggling to adapt to Machin’s preferred system of three central defenders and two wing-backs.