FC Barcelona: How the Catalans Will Line Up Against Valladolid

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FC Barcelona: How the Catalans Will Line Up Against Valladolid
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Barcelona is set to hit the road on Saturday as they will be taking on Real Valladolid in La Liga play. The Catalans will be looking to take another three points as they seek to catch Real Madrid at the top of the table.

It will be an odd trip for La Blaugrana as one eye will be cast on the midweek clash with Manchester City. Barcelona will need to rest a few stars in order to stay fresh for their Champions League match meaning Tata Martino may have a bit of a selection headache.

Either way, the focus on Saturday will be solely on taking all three points against their hosts. Barcelona cannot afford to drop any more points, and fans can bet on the manager fielding a strong squad.

With that being said, let's take a look at how Barcelona should line up this weekend.

 

Defense

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There is no denying that Victor Valdes will yet again be the man between the sticks. The Catalan keeper is having a fine season with the club and will be looking to continue his run of form after a shaky performance in Barcelona's last match.

With Dani Alves having started the last match, all signs point to Martin Montoya being in the lineup on Saturday. The young right-back is putting his best foot forward at the moment and would be a wise choice.

On the left side of the defense, Martino could opt for either Jordi Alba or Adriano. Alba would likely be the first choice to start against Manchester City, meaning Adriano should play opposite of Montoya this weekend.

The center-back position is where the real problem lies for Martino. With Gerard Pique having been ruled out of action for two weeks, there is a selection headache.

Barcelona will need Marc Bartra and Javier Mascherano to be healthy and at their best to face Manchester City. Both defenders should not start this weekend, meaning someone will sit out while Carles Puyol features yet again.

Most likely, Mascherano will get the night off against Real Valladolid with Puyol and Bartra pairing up this weekend. Either way, Martino has some tough decisions to make.

 

Midfield

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Sergio Busquets is going to be vitally important for Barcelona in Champions League play, but he is also key to the club's domestic campaign as well. Alex Song has performed well in his absence, but the side clearly struggles with the Catalan off the pitch.

In truth, Busquets needs the rest, and Song will likely start in his place. Against most teams that could come back to hurt La Blaugrana, but that shouldn't be expected against Real Valladolid.

Starting alongside Busquets will likely be Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta. Both midfielders have been in insane form over the last few months and will play a major role in every game they feature.

It would be good if one of them could get a rest this weekend, but it seems as though that honor will go to Xavi who could also be fielded against Manchester City. 

Barcelona cannot afford to change their entire squad for one game so Martino has to go with a solid midfield in this game. The manager does have the option of playing Sergi Roberto, but he has not shown much confidence in the youngster this season.

 

Forwards

The toughest decision for Martino may be who he starts up front. There is no denying that Lionel Messi could use a night off with a big game on the horizon, but that just doesn't seem likely.

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With Messi almost certain to feature, Martino will have to make a wise choice of who to put beside him.

Expect Neymar and Alexis Sanchez to start the match on the bench and come on late to freshen up their legs before the midweek clash. That means Pedro and Cristian Tello will likely partner Messi in Barcelona's attack.

It is nearly impossible to guess who will be starting up front. However, it is clear that there has to be a balance between quality and key stars getting to rest.

 

Prediction

Will Tata Martino rest most of his stars?

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Barcelona cannot afford to drop any more points right now. From here on out, every match is a final. La Blaugrana will come out firing, and Real Valladolid will struggle to keep their visitors at bay.

I expect a very quickly start to the game with Barcelona looking to settle the match early on. Messi should find a goal in the first half with someone else chipping in as well. By halftime the match should already be decided.

Barcelona will want to take off Messi well before the final whistle so as not to take any chances with him. Fabregas and Iniesta could also see shortened time in preparation for the midweek madness.

I predict a 4-0 victory for Barcelona with every goal coming from a different player. It won't be a spectacular performance from La Blaugrana, but they will absolutely get the job done.

 

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