BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona will be without some of its regular starters for the return match against Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday, including playmaker Pedri and forward Ousmane Dembélé because of injuries.
Coach Xavi also won’t be able to count on suspended midfielder Gavi.
The teams drew 2-2 in Barcelona last week in the first leg of the knockout playoffs. The former European champions traded leads in a thrilling back-and-forth second half at Camp Nou.
Barcelona, which traveled Wednesday to Manchester, heads to the match still reeling from the public disclosure that it made payments of millions of dollars over several years to a company that belonged to the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee, igniting widespread criticism of the club across Spain. Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.
Muscle injuries have sidelined Pedri (right leg) and Dembélé (left leg). Xavi could use forwards Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati to play in attack against United with Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, or add Sergi Roberto to an attacking midfield position in what would be a more cautious formation.
Raphinha started on the bench in the team’s 2-0 win against Cadiz in the Spanish league on Sunday, a result that left the Catalan club eight points ahead of second-place Real Madrid. Lewandowski and Roberto scored a goal each.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports