Barcelona will host La Liga rivals Getafe at the Camp Nou on Saturday as the Catalans look to keep pressure on the top of the table. Though there will be several stars missing, La Blaugrana will still field a strong lineup.
The Catalans are fully aware that they will face a very determined Getafe side. Their visitors currently sit 17th in the La Liga table and are deep in a battle to remain in the Primera next season.
Facing such a desperate opponent is always a difficult task, but Barcelona are in a battle of their own.
They currently trail the top spot in the table by only four points, and with an upcoming match against leader Atletico Madrid, every point is crucial.
The club's official website recently released Tata Martino's squad list, and there are several players missing with injuries. The manager should still be able to field a strong lineup, and Barcelona will need to as well if they want to keep the title race alive.
With that being said, let's take a look at how La Blaugrana will line up on Saturday.
Jose Pinto will remain in goal for the Catalans with Victor Valdes out for the remainder of the season due to injury. The 38-year-old has filled in well over the past few weeks and will look to continue a run of good form, though fans will be hoping he takes better care of the ball.
Dani Alves will definitely keep his starting spot on the right side of the defense in such a big game. The Brazilian has been playing well lately, though his desire to make crosses should be addressed before such a big game.
Alves has been linking up well with attack and can provide a very good outlet against Getafe. He will need to keep one eye on defending though and should put in a good performance.
On the left side of defense will be Adriano. With Jordi Alba out injured, Adriano is the only option, but he is a good option to have. His ability to get forward and use pace will give the Catalans another option, yet like Alves, he will need to focus on defending as well.
The center-back duo for Barcelona will once again be young Marc Bartra and Argentine Javier Mascherano.
Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol are both injured, leaving Martino without many options for this match. The good news is that Bartra and Mascherano have begun to build a strong partnership and should be a wall in front of goal against the Getafe attack.
On Saturday, fans should once again see the fruitful midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and captain Xavi.
There is no room for error this weekend with every single point needed. Busquets will surely be back in the lineup and will make things very hard for Getafe. As the Barcelona back line look to stifle attacks, Busquets may be the most important player on the pitch.
Xavi and Iniesta will again provide the creativity for the Catalans. Cesc Fabregas could start, but due to his struggling form over the past few months, it is more likely that he will begin the game on the bench.
Like Busquets, Iniesta will be very important for Barcelona.
Getafe will likely look to play a heavily defensive game with relegation nipping at their heals. Barcelona will need to find a way to move the bus, and Iniesta is just the player to do that with his spacing and creative dribbling.
If things do not go Barcelona's way in the match, fans could see both Fabregas and Sergi Roberto brought on. Both midfielders are much more direct in the way they attack and may be needed late in the game.
Without a doubt, Lionel Messi will lead the attacking line yet again. However, the Argentine will be without Neymar, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with an injury.
With the Brazilian unable to compete, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro will keep their starting roles.
The attacking trio of Sanchez, Messi and Pedro has delivered great results this season and will likely be too much for Getafe to handle. Their ability to switch positions, track back and link up always gives defenders headaches, and Getafe's back line is not prepared to face such a force.
Messi will be the target man for Barcelona as he always is. His link-up play with Iniesta will cause havoc for the visitors, but don't be shocked if it is Sanchez and Pedro who turn out to be the goalscorers.
As the match progresses, it wouldn't be surprising to see Cristian Tello or even Ibrahim Afellay get some minutes up front.
With this match being so crucial for Barcelona, and the fact that it will be played at the Camp Nou, it would be a miracle for Getafe to steal points. Their relegation chances will look even worse after this weekend's action, but Barcelona's race for the title will still be alive, though just barely.
Final Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Getafe