Barcelona will begin life after Lionel Messi on Sunday when they host Real Sociedad in the Primera Division.
While this is an overwhelming blow for the Camp Nou side, the week has, at least, ended on a somewhat positive note with the news that Gerard Pique has elected to forego some of his salary to allow Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia to be registered in time to play in this match.
Given that Ronald Koeman is facing fairly considerable selection issues prior to this match, having this pair primed for action is a major boost, particularly with the Dutchman having been in such impressive form in pre-season.
Koeman’s headaches start in goal, where Marc-Andre ter Stegen is out injured and will, therefore, be replaced by Neto.
Garcia has rushed back from Olympic duty to be available for this encounter, while fellow central defenders Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet are both struggling with injuries.
Frenkie de Jong is a doubt in midfield but Pedri, who played 72 games last season, the last of which was the Olympic final on 7 August, is primed for action and will be in the squad. Nevertheless, Riqui Puig may be preferred to him.
Finally, the issues in attack are well known. Beyond losing six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to PSG, Barcelona are also without Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Aguero, all of whom are significant injury headaches.
Martin Braithwaite is, therefore, expected to lead the line, with Antoine Griezmann will hope that Messi’s departure can help him to rediscover the type of form that made Barcelona pay €120 million to Atletico Madrid for him.
Depay, meanwhile, could be the only debutant to feature from the start, with Pique and Ronald Araujo set to feature together in the heart of the defence, with Garcia on the bench along with the highly rated Yusuf Demir.
Potential XI: Barcelona v Real Sociedad