Who will replace Suarez and other key questions ahead of the Copa del Rey final

Andy West 20:56 26/05/2017
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Luis Enrique will take charge of Barcelona for the last time as coach in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Alaves.

Ahead of the game in Madrid, here’s a look at five key questions.

Back three or back four for Barca?

Throughout the last few months Luis Enrique has regularly switched between a back three and back four, without ever settling decisively on either.

It doesn’t help that his regular right-back, Sergi Roberto, is missing through suspension, so he will have to field someone out of position – probably either Lucas Digne or Javier Mascherano – if he opts for a flat back four.

Either way, Barca’s team shape will be less than ideal.

Lucas Digne.

Lucas Digne.

Who replaces Luis Suarez?

The most obvious replacement for suspended Luis Suarez is the squad’s only other out-and-out centre forward, Paco Alcacer.

But the former Valencia man’s struggles this season have led to him often being overlooked, even when he is the most logical choice.

However, the other options are also unconvincing with Andre Gomes, Arda Turan and Denis Suarez in poor form, and Rafinha injured.

So Alcacer will probably earn selection on default.

Luis Suarez.

Luis Suarez.

Can Theo Hernandez exploit Barca’s weak right-side?

Alaves’s player of the season has undoubtedly been marauding left-back Theo Hernandez, whose brilliant performances during his season on loan from Atletico Madrid have sparked speculation of a summer switch to Real Madrid.

The 19 year-old is an extremely powerful runner on the overlap, perfectly suiting him to exploiting Barca’s greatest area of weakness.

And if he knows that he’ll soon be heading to the Bernabeu, he could hardly be more motivated.

Theo Hernandez.

Theo Hernandez.

Is this Mascherano’s farewell?

Amid rumours that Javier Mascherano will leave Barcelona this summer, tonight’s final could give the greatest unsung hero of their golden era a chance to sign out on a high.

But the gritty Argentine may well miss out, having been sidelined for the last three weeks with a calf injury.

And if he is selected, it could be in an unfamiliar right-back role which has always made him look uncomfortable.

Javier Mascherano.

Javier Mascherano.

Will Alaves attack?

It will be fascinating to see the approach taken by Alaves manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who knows that Barca are defensively vulnerable but is equally aware that his team’s success this season has been largely built on an outstanding defensive record.

Alaves can’t afford to leave space for Lionel Messi & co to exploit on the break, but neither can they abandon all attacking intent.

Finding the balance will be crucial.

Mauricio Pellegrino.

Mauricio Pellegrino.

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