Barcelona have had nightmares about the UEFA Champions League in recent years, from the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in 2020 to the failure to qualify for the knockout rounds in the last two seasons. But the Catalans have started the current campaign on the right foot and will secure a place in the last 16 with two matches to spare if they defeat Shakhtar Donetsk in Hamburg, Germany on Tuesday.
De Jong and Roberto the only Barça injury absentees
Barça have been plagued by injuries for much of the season but the treatment room has cleared up nicely in the last couple of weeks for head coach Xavi Hernández, who is only missing midfielder Frenkie de Jong and club captain Sergi Roberto.
Lewandowski and Raphinha to start in attack, Félix rested?
Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha made their comebacks in the Clásico defeat to Real Madrid, with the Pole starting in the somewhat fortunate victory over Real Sociedad at the weekend. They are expected to have the chance to continue building their match fitness in attack, although João Félix looks likely to drop out after starting every Game since joining on loan from Atlético Madrid at the start of September.
The Portuguese’s spot on the left-hand side of the front three could be taken by “false winger” Gavi, who will almost certainly start given he is suspended for Sunday’s LaLiga fixture at home to Alavés.
Koundé and Pedri fit after recent injuries
Raphinha’s inclusion should see João Cancelo drop back into defence as Xavi reverts back to a 4-3-3. On the opposite flank, Alejandro Balde, like Félix, could be rested, with Marcos Alonso in contention to replace him.
Jules Koundé and Pedri were a week behind Lewandowski and Raphinha in their recoveries but look to have come through their returns to action unscathed. The Frenchman played the full 90 minutes against Real Sociedad, while Pedri is set to be included in the starting line-up after playing for over half-an-hour in San Sebastián.
Barcelona’s possible starting XI to play Shakhtar Donetsk:
Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Koundé, Araújo, Alonso; Pedri, Romeu, Gündogan; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi.
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