Barcelona will try to forget about their horrifying Champions League defeat in midweek when they travel to La Liga holders Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
La Blaugrana fell to a humiliating loss against Benfica – their first to the Portuguese outfit since 1961 – to kick off their European campaign with two consecutive 3-0 defeats. Although they’re yet to lose in the league, Ronald Koeman’s side have struggled on the field, putting together some desperately drowsy performances.
To build on an underwhelming start of three wins and three draws so far, here’s the side Koeman pick to take on Atleti side who sit fourth on 14 points – one also high in spirits after their last-gasp winner against AC Milan in the Champions League.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – Only he knows what on earth he was thinking on Wednesday night. Needs to remember he’s a world class goalkeeper and pronto.
Oscar Mingueza (RB) – Barcelona were ripped apart with a three at the back in midweek, so Koeman could revert to playing a four. Sergi Roberto was utterly dreadful in Lisbon, potentially allowing Mingueza a way into the side.
Gerard Pique (CB) – Can he improve on a rare 0/10 awarded by 90min from that Champions League clash? Well, it can’t get any worse for a player who is a supposed leader.
Ronaldo Araujo (CB) – One of the few players to show a bit of heart and desire in midweek. Warrants keeping his place.
Sergino Dest (LB) – Jordi Alba’s absence should mean another start for Dest on the left – not his natural position, which is plainly evident by his desire to always cut inside.
Sergio Busquets (DM) – Time is really catching up with Busquets now, but does Koeman have it within him to play the kids? Probably not, especially against Atletico.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – Has served his domestic suspension and will be straight back into the side for La Liga duties. One of the few bright sparks in this current incarnation of Barcelona.
Pedri (CM) – The fact that Koeman put the 18-year-old back into the starting XI as soon as he could says it all. If he can, he’ll play.
Philippe Coutinho (RW) – With Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero all out of contention, Coutinho will probably have to start again – the sooner Ansu Fati is fit enough to start, the better.
Luuk De Jong (ST) – So blatantly out of place in a Barcelona shirt it hurts. Did open his account against Levante but his general finishing is repugnant – judging by his 90min critique midweek.
Memphis Depay (LW) – You get the feeling that any success Barcelona may have (and by success, we mean avoiding crushing defeats) will be down to Memphis. A star turn in a bloody ordinary team.