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The former Arsenal man takes David Villa's place the in the starting XI for the Catalan side, while Adriano deputises at right-back for the injured Dani Alves

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has handed a start to Cesc Fabregas for the Catalan side’s Spanish Primera Division match with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday evening.

The 25-year-old replaces David Villa in the home side's attack, though it is possible that Andres Iniesta may feature in the advanced role, as he did against Levante last week, with Fabregas dropping in to midfield.

Adriano has recovered from the illness that initially made him a doubt for the game and will deputise for Dani Alves in defence, as the Brazilian is out with a hamstring injury.

There is no place in the starting XI for captain Carles Puyol, who settles for a place on the bench, with Javier Mascherano partnering Gerard Pique in the centre of defence.

Athletic welcome back first-choice striker Aritz Aduriz into their starting line-up as he returns from his one-match ban. Fernando Llorente is the man to make way for the former Valencia striker.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Adriano, Mascherano, Pique, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Fabregas

Subs: Pinto, Villa, Montoya, Tello, Thiago, Song, Puyol

 

Athletic Bilbao (4-3-3): Iraizoz; Ramalho, Ekiza, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe; Iturraspe, De Marcos, Herrera; Susaeta, Aduriz, Ibai

Subs: Toquero, Moran, San Jose, Fernandez, Llorente, Martinez, Castillo


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