After a thrilling draw against Mallorca in their previous match, Barcelona returns home to face Sevilla at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Friday night. The dropped points have affected their standing at the top of the La Liga table, but the team remains unbeaten this season. With a crucial Champions League clash against FC Porto on the horizon, Barcelona needs to regain their winning form and boost their confidence. However, Sevilla has proved to be a formidable opponent for Barcelona in the past, and the Catalans must deliver their best performance to secure a victory. Let’s take a look at how Xavi Hernández is expected to shape his lineup for this challenging match.
Sensible Rotations Coming to an End for the Big Game
Throughout September, Xavi has made sensible rotations and managed player minutes effectively. However, this crucial match calls for the best players to be on the field. One potential exception to this may be João Cancelo, who has been a key player since the international break. He is likely to start on the bench, making way for last season’s dominant defensive quartet to return. Jules Kounde may move to right-back, partnering with Andreas Christensen in the center. Alejandro Balde, who has had a few inconsistent performances, will complete the backline on the left.
Midfield Trio in the Absence of Key Players
With Pedri and Frenkie de Jong unavailable, Xavi has no choice but to stick with the midfield trio of Ilkay Gündogan, Oriol Romeu, and Gavi. Starting Gündogan again poses some risk, but the extended rest between Friday’s match and the midweek trip to Portugal should allow the German sufficient recovery time. Depending on the match’s progress, Gündogan can be substituted early to ensure his fitness. Fermín López, who scored his first goal for Barcelona, will continue to see significant minutes until Pedri and Frenkie return. The 20-year-old midfielder seems to have earned Xavi’s trust, placing him ahead of Sergi Roberto in the pecking order.
Lewandowski and Raphinha Key Figures in Attack
Robert Lewandowski, who was wisely rested for an hour in the previous match, is expected to start in both the Sevilla and Porto clashes. Alongside Lewy, Raphinha deserves a second consecutive start on the right after an impressive performance. The Brazilian has demonstrated his ability to handle increased competition in the attack and has become an integral part of Xavi’s plans. João Félix, who was subbed off early against Mallorca, will likely retain his spot on the left wing. However, Ferran Torres is also a potential option off the bench in this match.
Potential Lineup and Formation
Based on the expected 4-3-3 formation, the possible starting lineup for Barcelona could be: Ter Stegen in goal; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, and Balde in defense; Gündogan, Romeu, and Gavi in midfield; with Raphinha, Lewandowski, and Félix leading the attack.