The loss against Athletic in the Cup was unfortunate and heartbreaking, but, looking at the positive side, we’ll at least get some extra rest. And, with such a thin squad, we desperately needed that. No midweek game between the match against Betis and Getafe, so tomorrow we can afford to make less rotations – even if they would clearly be welcome too.
The obvious and obliged change will be in defence, caused by the suspension of Piqué. We could use Araújo, and maybe this is a good time to give minutes to what is supposed to be our fourth centre-back. However, I went with our two French centre-backs instead, who are more used to each other in the absence of Gerard.
At full-backs, I changed what we’ve been seeing lately. Recently I’ve been asking for Jordi Alba to be rested, because he hasn’t been at the top of his game and because we need to give playtime to Junior Firpo. He would be back home. For the opposite flank I picked Sergi Roberto – for his associative profile and capacity to play in tight spaces I’ve always preferred him over Semedo. But Nélson seems to have been playing better with Setién than with Valverde, so I expect most to opt for the Portuguese.
At the centre of the park, I already stated yesterday that Arthur should be starting and become undroppable. He suits Quique’s football more than Vidal or Rakitić, although maybe not more than Riqui, who has the positional play principles more internalised. If Riqui started, I would bench Busquets, for rest, and place De Jong as the defensive midfielder. But it’s better to rest Sergio next week, at home against Getafe, and start Riqui by then.