FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez is expected to make at least three huge changes to his starting XI that will face Real Betis at the Montjuic Stadium on Saturday.
The Catalans return to their temporary home for the first time in a month, with their last outing there a 2-0 win over Cadiz.
Xavi’s men struggled to unlock the visitors for a good 82 minutes, until Ilkay Gundogan provided a delightful assist for Pedri.
Since then, the Spain international has picked up an injury which should keep him out for five to six weeks at least.
Playing for his country this week as they beat France 2-1, Gundogan came off in tears which sparked fears that his back knock was also a hammer blow that could keep him sidelined for a while.
As it turns out, the German’s scare is not as serious as previously thought.
Xavi still doesn’t want to risk starting the 32-year-old from the outset, though, with Gavi and Frenkie de Jong forming a midfield duo in front of pivot Oriol Romeu.
For the La Liga meeting where a win could elevate the defending champions to the top of the table ahead of current leaders Real Madrid taking on Real Sociedad, Xavi will abandon his four-man midfield system which employs someone like Gavi, Gundogan or Pedri as a false left winger.
In a 4-3-3 with two pure widemen, Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix will make his starting debut for his “dream” club.
On the other side of striker Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres is rewarded for his hard work and attitude with his first start of 2023/2024 ahead of Lamine Yamal and Raphinha.
Back in defense, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will look to keep a clean sheet with help from another starting debutant in Joao Cancelo.
Xavi finally has the natural right back he long craved in the Portuguese, and the Manchester City man is in a back four with Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde.
Against the Andalusians, Barca will look to replicate a 4-0 win in April where Lamine Yamal made his debut aged 15.
A strong showing will put them on a good footing for their maiden Champions League outing on Tuesday, with this the first match of seven over a hectic 22-day period.