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Nice vs. Barcelona: How Barca Will Line Up in Pre-Season Friendly

Most of the first team squad have returned after their holidays.
Most of the first team squad have returned after their holidays.David Ramos/Getty Images
Jason PettigroveContributor IAugust 1, 2014

Barcelona travel to Nice a full two weeks after their last pre-season friendly, a 1-0 victory at Recreativo Huelva.

That game would have told manager Luis Enrique precisely nothing, given that each half saw a completely different XI from the other and a poor Recre side hardly troubled his "B" team.

Since then, Barcelona's Spanish contingent have returned from their summer holidays along with Ivan Rakitic, and Enrique will be keen to re-integrate his players as soon as possible.

Gerard Pique and the rest of Barca's Spanish contingent have rejoined training.
Gerard Pique and the rest of Barca's Spanish contingent have rejoined training.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

The game against Nice represents a perfect opportunity for a run out and with the French Ligue 1 season beginning just a week afterwards, the home side are sure to put out a strong team.

Barca will be the first club side to visit the newly completed Allianz Riviera. Per FCBarcelona.com:

The venue will be the recently completed Allianz Riviera  with the capacity for 35,624 spectators.

[...] The friendly with Barça will be the second international match to be staged there after it was used by the French national team for a World Cup warm-up match against Paraguay on June 1.

A sell-out crowd will be expected on the Cote d'Azur and it would be no surprise to see a strong contingent of Barca fans, given the venue is just a few hundred miles along the coast.

Enrique will tinker with his squad for this one but is unlikely to make wholesale changes again, given the quality of the opposition.

Whilst the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are still unable to join the squad, it does give "Lucho" the opportunity to work with other squad members and give the entire squad a deeper appreciation of what he is trying to achieve.

Claudio Bravo will likely play for 45 minutes, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen playing the second.
Claudio Bravo will likely play for 45 minutes, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen playing the second.Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen should play one half each, allowing the manager to stay informed of the strengths and weaknesses of both keepers, before making his final decision as to who will be the No. 1 this coming season.

Martin Montoya will start on the right-hand side of the defence with Dani Alves not ready to join the party just yet.

In central defence, Barca fans are in for a treat. A sight of the first central defender they have signed in five years! Jeremy Mathieu will partner Gerard Pique in a duo that offers height, pace and strength.

Jeremy Mathieu will make his debut against Nice.
Jeremy Mathieu will make his debut against Nice.David Ramos/Getty Images

Jordi Alba will give way to Alejandro Grimaldo after the first 45, as Enrique looks to see exactly which Barca B players could be ready to make the step up to the first-team squad.

Captain Andres Iniesta will lead the team from the midfield supported by Sergio Busquets and Rakitic. Xavi could make a fleeting appearance but his tenure in the side this season will be sporadic.

Andres Iniesta will captain the side this season.
Andres Iniesta will captain the side this season.David Ramos/Getty Images

It's entirely plausible that Xavi's continued stay at Barcelona is an exercise designed only to keep him fit enough to join an MLS side later in the season.

Gerard Deulofeu, Pedro Rodriguez and Sandro Ramirez will form an exciting and mobile front line with a view to substitutions later in the game.

Alen Halilovic impressed on debut as did Munir El Haddadi, two players who will definitely be part of Barcelona's future. How much of a cameo they will play in this one is anybody's guess.

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