Helsinki vs. Barcelona: How Barca Will Line Up in Finland

Jason PettigroveContributor IAugust 8, 2014

Who will start in Barca's fourth game of pre-season?
Who will start in Barca's fourth game of pre-season?Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Barcelona travel to Finland for their fourth match of pre-season, coming off of the back of a lacklustre performance against Napoli.

Luis Enrique is unlikely to be satisfied with what he has seen from his side during pre-season, the week spent in England probably providing more of an insight for the manager into the capabilities, and more importantly the needs, of his squad.

A strong HJK Helsinki team should provide another stern test for the Blaugrana, with the Finns enjoying one of the most successful periods in their history.

HJK Helsinki are enjoying a record-breaking run.
HJK Helsinki are enjoying a record-breaking run.Roni Rekomaa/Associated Press

A record five league titles in a row have been achieved by the likes of the experienced Mikael Forssell and Teemu Tainio, alongside young starlets such as Nikolai Alho and Robin Lod.

The locals have never known anything like it, and the home side won't be strolling out in front of a capacity 40,000 crowd with the intention of making Barcelona look good.

Be assured that despite the goodwill of a pre-season game, Helsinki will see the Catalans as a good scalp to claim. Expect them to attack Enrique's experimental side from the off.

"Lucho" has tinkered with a 3-2-3-2 formation in the build-up to this match, per Mundo Deportivo via Kieran Sobels of Inside Spanish Football.

Reports suggest that this may be the manager's preferred set-up during the early part of the La Liga season, but he is likely to tinker with different formations here.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen should start the match after Claudio Bravo's mix-and-match performance against the Italians. 

Claudio Bravo faces a fight for a starting spot at Barca.
Claudio Bravo faces a fight for a starting spot at Barca.Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The game comes just too quickly for those who represented their countries in the latter stages of the World Cup, so Dani Alves misses out once more.

Martin Montoya will be utilised by his old Barca B coach on the right side of a back three, but he will need to provide the width that was lacking in his performance in Geneva.

Gerard Pique should be dropped to the subs bench after another poor showing and his recent admission that he is not at this best, per Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football.

If Enrique really is true to his word that everyone starts with a clean slate, and he will pick based on performance, then there are other more able staff to begin this game at the heart of the defence.

His replacement will be new signing Jeremy Mathieu, who will deputise alongside Jordi Alba, completing the back line.

Jeremy Mathieu will anchor the back line from the start.
Jeremy Mathieu will anchor the back line from the start.Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Such a set-up is conducive to using both Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano in the double pivot, but with the latter also missing, Alex Song should get one final chance in the "shop window" as Enrique looks to move him on before the start of next season.

Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic will provide skill, work rate and attention to detail in abundance. The high level of accuracy that both possess in the pass will free up a direct-running Rafinha, whose power and pace will be a handful for the Finns.

Will Luis Enrique still have much to ponder after the match in Finland?
Will Luis Enrique still have much to ponder after the match in Finland?Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

With Neymar and Lionel Messi still a few days short of fitness, expect Gerard Deulofeu and Pedro Rodriguez to start out wide, with Munir El-Haddadi once again ready to add to his burgeoning reputation in the middle.

It promises to be a dynamic encounter, and one from which Lucho will want goals to complement a high-tempo, typically Barca performance.