Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is expected to include two La Masia players in his squad for the La Liga clash against Malaga this weekend, with several senior players unavailable.
Marca carries a report of a ‘squad headache’ for Enrique. Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic are both suspended after collecting yellow cards during the midweek win over Sevilla, while Aleix Vidal, Arda Turan and Rafinha were already ruled out injured.
Having made his La Liga debut last weekend against Granada, Barca B’s Carles Aleña was the beneficiary again on Wednesday as he appeared for the final 10 minutes. The 19-year-old midfielder is expected to be part of the 18-man travelling squad to Andalusia and was even given a confidence boost by Enrique in the wake of the Sevilla win.
“[Aleña] knows what he has to do and he will be an interesting player. He has a lot to learn but he is in the best place,” the coach said on Wednesday.
The Spain Under-19 international could be joined in the first-team by fellow Spaniard Alex Carbonell or Cameroonian talent Wilfrid Kaptoum (pictured below), both of whom have also trained with the senior stars this week.
Carbonell is yet to feature in La Liga but made his first-team debut in a Copa del Rey game against Hercules in November last year. Similarly, Kaptoum is still waiting for his La Liga debut but has three senior appearances to his name since 2015 after brief three outings in Champions League and Copa del Rey games.
The 20-year-old has actually scored in those appearances as well, finding the net in a 1-1 draw against Valencia two minutes after coming on. That goal also saw Barca set a new club record after it extended an unbeaten run to 29 games, surpassing the previous best of 28.
The Catalans are still two points behind Real Madrid who also have a game in hand and Barca must not allow any more slip-ups until the end of the season if they want to stay in the contest for defending the title.
Luis Enrique’s men have been in a terrific attacking shape recently as they scored 11 goals in three consecutive wins over Valencia, Granada and Sevilla. Lionel Messi bagged a brace, while Luis Suarez scored a spectacular bicycle-kick goal to finish the job for Blaugrana in the very first half.
Barcelona have obviously been the dominant side in head to head clashes with Malaga, but they are among the rare teams who managed to take a point from Camp Nou this season holding the Catalans to a goalless draw in November last year.
Also, Malaga managed a highly-important six-point victory over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday evening. The win helped them move to a five-point distance from the danger area ahead of a very tough home fixture with Barcelona.