Madrid, April 8 (IANS) FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique will have to carry out a balancing act when the Catalan football giants visit Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday afternoon.
Last weekend’s home defeat to Real Madrid has brought some emotion back to the La Liga as Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table was cut to six points over Atletico Madrid and seven over Real Madrid. Although that is still a comfortable gap with seven games to play it has reduced Barcelona’s margin for error, reports Xinhua.
Under normal circumstances, Enrique would field his strongest 11 in the Anoeta Stadium, but with his side defending a 2-1 first leg lead in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Atletico on Wednesday night, the coach will have to make some changes for the trip to the Basque country.
Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, and Ivan Rakitic can all expect to start Saturday’s game on the substitute’s bench, with Sergi Roberto, Arda Turan and Rafinha, who will make his first start since injuring his knee at the beginning of the season, all in line to step in.
Injuries to Aleix Vidal and Adriano Correa limit the options of rotating in defence, while up front Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez will form the attacking line-up.
Last season’s defeat in the Anoeta Stadium acted as the catalyst for a run of form which ended with Barcelona winning a domestic and European treble, but it is a ground where they have struggled in recent seasons and Real Sociedad are confident after last weekend’s win away to Sevilla.
Real Sociedad are without the suspended Market Bergara, but with their league future assured, the team coached by former Barcelona tactician Eusebio Sacristan, have every reason to feel confident they can cause an upset.
Real Madrid will also make changes for the visit of Eibar as they look to next Tuesday’s return leg at home to Wolfsburg in which they need to overturn a 0-2 first leg deficit.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane can be expected to play Dani Carvajal at right back, while Isco, James Rodriguez and perhaps Lucas Vazquez could be in the side to entertain Eibar — the team with the smallest budget in Spain.