Barcelona prepare to square off against bottom placed Osasuna on Sunday and it goes without saying that the Catalans need to claim all three points from the encounter to keep their title hopes alive.
Barcelona missed a great opportunity to close the gap on Real Madrid after a concession of a very late equalizer in the El Clasico last weekend and the Blaugrana remain six points off of their rivals in the La Liga table at the moment.
With Real Madrid soon to be heading for the Club World Cup in Japan, Barcelona will surely need to close in the gap in the upcoming weeks and victory over Osasuna this weekend will be of paramount importance.
Here is the strongest possible Barcelona lineup for the clash against Osasuna –
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was handed a rest during Barcelona’s 4-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek and he is now expected to be making a return to the starting lineup this weekend.
Ter Stegen has not kept a clean sheet in his last two matches in La Liga and he will surely be desperate to do so against Osasuna.
The likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Roberto were all handed rests in the Champions League as well and there is no doubting that the trio will be making a return to the starting lineup on Saturday.
Javier Mascherano and Samuel Umtiti both started the encounter against Borussia Monchengladbach and it will be interesting to see whom Luis Enrique elects to start with at the centre back position alongside Pique.
Andres Iniesta made his first start since returning from injury in the midweek clash against Borussia Monchengladbach and he sizzled as expected.
The talismanic Barcelona skipper is expected to start against Osasuna as well and the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets should complete the rest of the midfield lineup. Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes will also be hopeful of starts after featuring prominently over the past few weeks.
Neymar is suspended for the encounter which means that hattrick hero Arda Turan should get another opportunity to start on Saturday.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are certain starters as well and the duo should be looking forward to the prospect of finding the back of the net against a struggling Osasuna outfit.