FC Barcelona will make a huge line up to its lineup on Sunday when they host Alaves at the Montjuic Stadium.
The biggest of them all comes in the form of Pedri, with the Spain international making his first start since an August 20 meeting against Cadiz at the same ground where he scored a late winner.
Pedri picked up a hamstring injury in training the following week that kept him sidelined until last weekend’s unflattering 1-0 win at Real Sociedad.
He racked up further minutes in the Hamburg defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday but will finally start from the offset for Xavi Hernandez’s men.
With Gavi suspended, it is the provider of that summer night assist at Cadiz’s expense, Ilkay Gundogan who partners Pedri in one of the two available attacking midfield spots.
As a consequence of this, Oriol Romeu begins at pivot looking to get his form back on track following unflattering performances in Frenkie de Jong’s injured absence.
Going back to defense, Xavi opts for a central partnership between Jules Kounde and Inigo Martinez as Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen hit the bench.
Helping Kounde and Martinez in their endeavour to secure a clean sheet for Marc-Andre ter Stegen are Alejandro Balde and Joao Cancelo at left and right back.
Up top, Joao Felix returns to the starting XI to striker Robert Lewandowski’s left while Lamine Yamal steps in for the unflattering Raphinha.
As Barca have lost two of their last three matches in all competitions, today’s fixture is viewed as a must-win for an under-pressure Xavi who claimed not to be shaken by the rut of form in his Saturday press conference because he has been “beaten up” all his life by the “entorno”, or environment, that surrounds the club.
A strong showing will help boost morale, and also keep the heat on Real Madrid and Girona at the top of the table ahead of the international break which takes over the calendar from next week onwards.
FC Barcelona Versus Alaves Starting XI: Ter Stegen; Balde, Martinez, Kounde, Cancelo; Romeu, Pedri, Gundogan; Felix, Lewandowski, Lamine