Barcelona return to action from the winter break with a Copa Del Rey clash against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night and the Catalan giants will be keen on continuing their fine run of form with a victory from the encounter.
Following a disappointing run of draws, Barcelona have gone on a wonderful streak of five consecutive victories and now look in very good shape to close down the gap on leaders Real Madrid in the La Liga standings.
Barcelona are going strong in the cup competitions as well and the Spanish champions will be looking to seal their place in the semi finals of the Copa del Rey by establishing a lead in the first leg Quarter Final clash against Athletic Club away from home on Thursday night.
Here is the strongest possible Barcelona lineup for the clash against Athletic –
Jasper Cillessen has been the man starting in goal for Barcelona during the Copa Del Rey but he is out at the moment due to a calf problem and as a result, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is likely to keep his place in the lineup for Thursday’s clash.
Athletic are a dangerous side going forward and the German goalkeeper will surely need to put in a strong display on the night in order to keep a clean sheet.
Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti looks the most likely combination at the heart of the backline for Barcelona while Javier Mascherano is also an option for Luis Enrique.
In the full back positions, Lucas Digne and Sergi Roberto should lineup but there is a strong possibility that even Jordi Alba will be considered for the role at left-back. Jeremy Mathieu remains out with injury at the moment.
Enrique will probably go with his strongest possible midfield for the clash which means that Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets look certain to be starting.
Andres Iniesta might be handed a rest though and Arda Turan looks set to be awarded with another opportunity to impress following his hattrick against Hercules last time out. The likes of Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes are the other options for Enrique to choose from.
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were the star attractions for the fans during Barcelona’s open training on Tuesday and the trio will certainly be lining up in attack for Barcelona against Athletic.
With the three superstars hitting form recently, one can expect the back of the net to bulge on a couple of occasions on Thursday night.