Spanish champions Barcelona open their Champions League campaign with a match at home against Ajax.
Barcelona will be looking for an efficient performance and a more convincing victory than the 3-2 La Liga win over the weekend.
This is a competition that Barcelona have dominated in recent years but they fell some way short of the required standard last season, thumped by the eventual winners Bayern Munich.
Here is the side they could go with.
GK - Victor Valdes
Valdes has reiterated that he won’t be going back on his decision to leave the club at the end of the season. However, he remains the number one at the Nou Camp and Gerardo Martino doesn’t have any reason to drop him at the moment.
RB – Martin Montoya
An injury to Jordi Alba means Dani Alves will more than likely have to change flanks and that means a chance for Martin Montoya to come into the team. Every chance will be precious for the full back as he tries to do enough to earn himself a new contract at the club.
CB – Gerard Pique
Pique is arguably the best centre back that Barcelona have available. He’s confident on the ball, doesn’t make stupid decisions under pressure and he offers an obvious aerial threat at the other end of the pitch.
CB – Javier Mascherano
Considering the potential difficulty of this match, it’s likely Martino won’t make too many changes to his back four. Mascherano is likely to partner Pique over the option of somehow getting Martin Montoya into the defence.
LB – Dani Alves
Alves is one of the best in the business when it comes to getting down either wing, providing extra support to the midfield. His pace means he can maintain that aggressive role because he’s quick enough to fall back into defence when his team are under pressure.
RM – Cristian Tello
Tello started the win against Sevilla on the right side of midfield and he’s likely to play there again, despite the fact it wasn’t his best 62 minutes of football. He should be determined to prove that he can become a very efficient and effective winger for the club down the right.
CM – Sergio Busquets
Busquets has shaken off recent injury worries and is likely to take his usual place in the side, playing the holding role in midfield. He’s one of the best in terms of getting stuck in, breaking up the play and generally making a real nuisance of himself to the opposition.
CM – Xavi
Xavi doesn’t need to be sold. His skill in terms of controlling the pace and the direction of Barcelona’s attacking play is something that he’s proved time and time again over the last few years.
CM – Andres Iniesta
Iniesta will probably play as the most advanced of all the central midfield players. He’ll be the player looking to link up with Messi most frequently, even going beyond him to try and pop up in the penalty area at vital times.
LM – Neymar
Neymar will start down the left but don’t be surprised to see him coming inside when the play is down the right. He’s got it all. He can play down the winger as an outright wide man or he can come inside, linking up with the Barcelona midfield, providing an extra threat to Messi in attack.
ST – Lionel Messi
Messi will play wherever he likes in this game as he tries to dominate the Ajax defence and bag a couple of goals. He’ll drop off, he’ll play on the shoulder, he may even drop off to the left with Neymar going central at any point during the match.
What do you think? Should Sanchez be starting ahead of Tello?
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