The 2021/2022 La Liga season is finally here. With the exit of Lionel Messi from the club and a swift start to the new campaign by Real Madrid, Barca will definitely be under pressure to perform.
FC Barcelona will start their season with a tough game against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou tonight.
• TEAM NEWS
The big news from yesterday evening is the registration of Memphis Depay, Eric García and Rey Manaj. This means they’re all available for selection today and were included in the match day squad. Also De Jong and Gavi are billed to return to the line up after overcoming their injuries, a good news for the team.
Marc-André ter Stegen (knee),
Ansu Fati (knee), Ousmane Dembélé (knee) and Sergio Agüero (calf) will all miss out the league opener due to various injuries. Philippe Coutinho (knee) will not be part of the game due to injury too and is almost on his way to full recovery.
• LINE UP
Ronald Koeman has called up 23 players for Matchday 1 of La Liga –
Goalkeepers: 13. Neto, 26. Iñaki Peña, 36. Arnau Tenas
Defenders: 2. Sergiño Dest, 3. Gerard Piqué, 4. Ronald Araujo, 15. Clément Lenglet, 18. Jordi Alba, 22. Emerson Royal, 24. Eric García, 31. Alejandro Balde
Midfielders: 5. Sergio Busquets, 6. Riqui Puig, 16. Pedri, 20. Sergi Roberto, 21. Frenkie De Jong, 27. Yusuf Demir, 28. Nico González, 30. Gavi
Forwards: 7. Antoine Griezmann, 9. Memphis Depay, 12. Martin Braithwaite, 14. Rey Manaj
• EXPECTED LINE UP
There are unconfirmed rumours that the coach may be permanently switching to a 4-3-3 formation. That notwithstanding, analysis of the preseason matches will easily show the players who are likely to be in the starting eleven for the first game.
Neto is expected to continue between the sticks since Ter Stegen is still out. Gerard Pique and Araujo are the favorite to partner in the heart of Barca’s defense while Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba will likely start as the preferred full backs.
There’s a high chance however that Pedri may get the nod to start in midfield despite his numerous engagements for club and country over the past one year.
But, just in case Koeman decides to introduce him later in the game, Riqui Puig may get the starting berth in midfield after an outstanding performance against Juventus.
Also, expect to see De Jong completing the midfield trio alongside club Captain, Sergio Busquets.
However, there is Braithwaite who is the club’s actual striker per se. Should the Barca gaffe choose to play him instead, Demir will start from the bench.
Things may get a little dicey in the attacking department, especially as Yusuf Demir was called up to be part of the team. He has been fantastic so far and there is a strong chance he may be deployed in the right flank in the forward line alongside Griezmann and Depay.
Line up –
Defenders: Dest, Pique, Araujo, Alba
Midfielders: Busquets, Pedri, F. D Jong
Forwards: Depay, Griezmann, Demir
• MATCH PREVIEW
The fixture between FC Barcelona v Real Soceidad used to be a difficult fixture in the past but all that is probably changed now.
Barca has not lost or drawn any of their last 5 opening games at home in La Liga. However, La Real remains a formidable opponent, so expect a lot of firecrackers tonight. But Barca should win this one, though it won’t come easy.
Match Time: 19:00 (GMT +1)