Barcelona play their first official match of the 2015/16 campaign on Tuesday, facing Sevilla in the European Super Cup final in Georgia.
The Catalans are to participate in the final courtesy of their Champions League victory over Juventus last season, Sevilla likewise after lifting the Europa League for a second successive season.
It promises to be an intriguing encounter between the two Spanish competitors though due to Barca’s transfer ban, boss Luis Enrique is unable to count on any of the club’s summer additions.
The back five:
As such, the popular coach has a number of tough selection choices ahead of him starting with the goalkeeper position. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was last season’s number one in European competitions, and there is no reason to change that now for the trip to Georgia.
Javier Mascherano may still be feeling the strains of the Copa America campaign, therefore Jeremy Mathieu is the ideal candidate to start – his height a key factor against new Sevilla striker Ciro Immobile.
There is little need to alter the fullback positions, though starting Adriano over Jordi Alba would show a clear indication that the Brazilian is a key member of Barca’s squad this summer.
Adriano has been heavily linked with a move to Roma, according to the Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.
The midfield seemingly picks itself following Xavi Hernandez’s exit and new signing Arda Turan’s unavailability to represent the team in any form until January.
Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are fit to start, while Croatian international Ivan Rakitic will be keen to put on an impressive display against his former employers.
Now, in a major final it would surely be unwise to break up last season’s 122-goal trident of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. However, there is good cause to start Pedro Rodriguez on Tuesday.
The Spain international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, as reported by Mundo Deportivo, but allowing him to move to Old Trafford would leave the club short.
Selecting Pedro for the European Super Cup final could prompt the player to commit to Barca. Similarly, if he isn’t a United player by Monday, he is ineligible to play in their upcoming Champions League playoff tie - a factor which could hinder a potential deal between the two clubs.