Ernesto Valverde will need to put his thinking cap on ahead of Athletic Bilbao’s game at the Camp Nou on Sunday at 8.30pm CET. His top player and leading goalscorer, Aritz Aduriz, is unavailable through suspension.
Aduriz will, however, be free to play in both legs of the Copa del Rey quarter finals, in which the Basques and Catalans will be meeting each other yet again.
To make matters worse for the visiting manager, midfielder Raúl García injured his left knee in the 2-0 loss to Sevilla last weekend and will also miss the match.
It means that Valverde is going to have to field a very different looking team to the one that he has used in recent cup and league matches, although it would seem that he’s already more than used to experimenting against Barça.
In curiously similar circumstances to the present, the first league meeting between the two teams this season also coincided with back-to-back games in another competition, the Spanish Super Cup, when Valverde considerably varied his selections for each game.
Indeed, in twelve games against FC Barcelona since he took over in Bilbao in June 2013, Valverde has fielded a different eleven every time.