Barcelona is preparing for a difficult challenge this weekend as they take on Real Madrid.
However, the Catalans have another crucial match against Inter Milan before they play the first El Clasico of the season. Many would even describe it as the most crucial match yet, as a loss would put Barça at risk of missing the Champions League group stages for a second straight year.
As a result, Xavi will have his work cut out for him when his team hosts Inter Milan. Here at Barça Universal, we’ll look at three personnel changes he might make in an effort to defeat the Nerazzurri tonight.
Ousmane Dembele will replace Ferran Torres
The Saturday matchup between Barcelona and Celta Vigo saw Ousmane Dembele sit out. But when the Catalans play Inter Milan this evening, we can anticipate the Frenchman making his comeback.
Dembele has been one of the key players in the Barcelona attack this season with two goals and four assists. He will be looking to redeem himself against the Nerazzurri despite his disappointing Champions League appearances.
Ferran Torres ought to be replaced by Dembele. The Brazilian may start on his preferred right flank, but given Raphinha’s struggles in the rematch against Inter, the former Borussia Dortmund attacker may play on the left side.
Eric Garcia will come back to the XI
Xavi might alter Inter Milan’s signature 3-5-2 formation from their usual one. It’s likely that a 3-4-3 will be used, and Eric Garcia might make a comeback. The Spanish player will likely replace one of the two full backs who started the match against Celta Vigo.
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The former Manchester City starlet is more of a classic center-back, and Barcelona may find him to be a more dependable choice in the back three due to his tactical adaptability.
Garcia has received criticism in the past for his lackluster showings against elite opponents, but he has performed well this season. As he works to restrict the Inter Milan frontline, which will probably be led by Lautaro Martinez, the defender will have another chance to silence his detractors.
Starts Frenkie de Jong
There have been rumors that Xavi will play with a back three rather than any wing-backs, leaving both full-backs on the bench and choosing to line up with four midfielders in the second line of press.
It might make Frenkie de Jong eligible to start later tonight. The Dutchman might play for Barcelona’s revised four-man midfield lineup against Inter Milan’s second line of press, which includes players like Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu.
De Jong’s skill and propensity for darting runs into the box provide crossers like Raphinha and Dembele another else to aim for. Additionally, the Dutchman has great technical qualities that may be useful while negotiating half-spaces.
Finally, de Jong could have a lot of leeway in midfield with Sergio Busquets providing extra coverage in the number six position. As a result, Barcelona might become incredibly dominating in the park’s center.