Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona are taking on Viktoria Plzen in their opening fixture of the Champions League, hoping to get off to a good start in a tough group.

Many will be predicting their match against Viktoria at Camp Nou to be the easiest of their six, with the Blaugrana facing Bayern Munich next week.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, manager Xavi Hernandez confirmed he would be making changes for the match, although he had warned of this being a trap game for Barcelona.

“Yes, there will be rotations. The calendar is very demanding, we need people to have minutes, there is tiredness, fatigue and niggles after the Sevilla match. We have a big squad and we have to rotate. That’s the idea.”

None of those rotations will include new signings Marcos Alonso or Hector Bellerin though. The pair of full-backs arrived late last week at the end of the transfer window, but have not been included in Barcelona’s squad for the Viktoria match.

Asked about their absence, Xavi put it down to a lack of the time with the team and match fitness.

“They are two signings, they have to get used to what we are doing. They haven’t had minutes this season and they need a little more physical work. Saturday they will be in the squad.”

The arrival of Bellerin and Alonso gives Barcelona far more depth at full-back, whereas before Sergi Roberto was the only natural option at right-back. Speaking in the same press conference, Jules Kounde admitted he was hoping to move back into the centre of defence after starting the last two matches on the right.


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