3 days after our vital win against Bilbao on the weekend, we’re back in action tonight in the Champions League. Live from the Estadi Lluis Companys in Montjuïc, its Barcelona against Shaktar Donetsk. Kicking off at 9pm local time. It’s the third game of the group stage campaign, and with so many first team players out, it’s definitely not going to be a straight forward game. In fact, we only have 12 first team players available for selection. With the rest of the roster being filled up with academy and B team players. Including the likes of Marc Guiu, who starred on the weekend scoring his first goal for the senior team, only 23 seconds after coming on. We’ll be hoping to see something similar later tonight.
A look at the opponent
When you’re looking at Shaktar, they’re a household name in the champions league. Always among the teams in the groups, without fail. They’ve got experience in Europe, so its not a game we can afford to take lightly. They’ve been here many times before, so we have to give them respect in that way. But of course, not too much respect. There’s going to be a blast from the past in tonight’s game too, as former Barca player Chgrynsky is currently playing for Shaktar. And he was at the club during the 2009 season, before signing for Shaktar in 2010 having been there ever since. They currently find themselves 3rd in their domestic league. 2 points off the league leaders, Kryvbas KR. They’ve scored a total of 20 goals and conceded only 10 throughout their first 10 league games so far. It’s definitely not going to be an easy game. And it’s vital we arrive with the right attitude to get the job done.
The starting lineup
In terms of the lineup, like I’ve mentioned in the build up, we only have 12 first team players available for selection. So we really are down to the bare bones. We are expected to receive the green light for most of the injured players soon. But i think at the moment, especially with Pedri and Frenkie, the club and Xavi are reluctant to rush anything. Which is understandable. Also, this weekend is El Clásico. It’s still so early in the season but it is a huge game in the title race so we need to have one eye on that one too. So it’ll be interesting to see how Xavi decides to lineup. I don’t think hell make too many changes, but it will be exciting to see some of the young talents get a chance, just like Guiu did on the weekend.
For me, the players I wouldn’t drop from Sunday’s game, would be Gundogan, Inigo, Araujo, Balde and Felix. The rest could be changed depending on their overall fitness. Cancelo has played a lot of football since he signed, so he may be rested. As i said, its quite difficult to figure it out. I would start Lamine Yamal for this game, to get him ready for El Clásico. And i would also start Guiu as the number 9. Ferran had a solid game on Sunday, but i think Guiu deserves a start for the impact he made on Sunday. If Cancelo is rested, we may see Hector Fort or Casado in his place. And it’ll also be interesting to see who replaces Gavi, after he picked up a suspension for tonight’s game in Porto. With only a handful of senior players to pick from, this is quite an unpredictable lineup.
My starting 11:
Fort- Araujo- Inigo- Balde
Fermin- Romeu- Gundogan
Lamine Yamal- Guiu- Felix