On the whole, the season had started well for Barcelona before the international break. As is the club’s want, crisis was just around the corner though.
The internationals have decimated the Barcelona squad, with Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo all returning with injuries. Hector Bellerin also picked up an issue in training.
With Sergi Roberto still recovering from an Achilles injury, he is the only natural option at right-back that might be available for their weekend fixture with Real Mallorca. Shortly after, they face Inter in a crucial Champions League fixture.
It appears that if they do play Roberto, it will be a risk and one that he may be reluctant to take, given the Catalan missed most of last season with injury.
Mundo Deportivo have highlighted the alternatives available to Xavi Hernandez if Roberto is not fit. It may be that he elects to use one of the three left-backs, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso or Jordi Alba, on their wrong side. He did so with Sergino Dest last season, although the US international has a stronger weak foot than the three mentioned.
He could call on one of the central defenders remaining, Andreas Christensen, Gerard Pique or Eric Garcia, all of whom are right-footed, to shift across. Or it may be that he decides to use a back three, getting rid of the position altogether.
In the Barcelona Atletic side, there are also a number of alternatives. Marc Casado is a central defender or midfielder but played on the right side of defence for Xavi in preseason. Rafa Marquez’s starting right-back for Atletic has been Alvaro Nunez, a 22-year-old summer signing from Bilbao Athletic. Although in a recent interview, Marquez suggested that midfielder Alvaro Sanz might do a good job at right-back. Sanz played on occasion with the first team last season and came on for 20 minutes against Real Mallorca in January.