Xavi Hernandez faces the Europa League knockout round playoff second leg against Manchester United with some important absentees.
Ousmane Dembele, Pedri and Gavi will be unavailable for the game. The first two are injured, while the third is suspended for the accumulation of cards.
All three are vital to Xavi’s formation, which will have a big impact on the Barcelona team’s line-up. The question is which team he will field in view of these absences.
Nine fixed players
There are nine players who will certainly start at Old Trafford, while Xavi has two doubts.
In goal, there is no discussion because Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will be in the starting line-up. In defence, there are three positions in place: Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen will be in the eleven.
It remains to be seen which of the first two will play at right-back. The doubt in defence is at left-back between Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde and Marcos Alonso.
The first one seems to be the most likely to play. He was a starter in the first leg. Alba’s experience is key, as is what he gives to the team, especially in attack.
Balde is performing at a good level this season, but in this type of game he is handicapped by his youth. Marcos Alonso is more solid at the back, but in attack he doesn’t have the depth of his two teammates, although Xavi has given him a lot of minutes in Europe.
The other doubt is between Sergi Roberto and Ferran Torres. And the choice will determine whether to play with three or four midfielders.
The former gives more consistency to the midfield and Xavi is betting on four midfielders in important matches.
In addition, against Cadiz he had a good performance, scoring a goal. Alongside him will be Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong and Franck Kessie.
If Sergi Roberto had a good game against Cadiz, Ferran Torres was superlative. The striker had arguably his best game of the season and is pushing hard for a place in Xavi’s eleven.
It is clear that Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha will start at Old Trafford.