Barcelona face Villarreal in La Liga on Saturday as Xavi faces his first away test since replacing Ronald Koeman as manager.
Xavi’s side face a home side that start the weekend in 12th place in the table and come from a disappointing Champions League loss to Manchester United.
Barca also didn’t get the result they wanted midweek against Benfica, but beat Espanyol last time in La Liga in Xavi’s first game in charge.
Let’s see how they could line up.
Photo by Xavier Bonilla / NurPhoto via.
Xavi has all kinds of defensive options with Sergino Dest now back in shape and available after coming in against Benfica.
The new boss raised a few eyebrows playing three center-backs midweek, which makes his baseline prediction a bit tricky.
Ronald Araujo has entered the starting XI and hopes to continue after an impressive performance in the Champions League.
Clément Lenglet, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Clement Lenglet are also available, while Xavi has yet to give Samuel Umtiti any playing time, which says a lot.
Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce /.
Barcelona midfielders have been impressive under Xavi. Sergio Busquets is more like his old self, while teenagers Nico Gonzalez and Gavi continue to shine and look completely at home in the starting XI.
Xavi will surely have to turn his midfielders at some point, but it’s a bit difficult right now due to a long list of injuries. Pedri remains on the sidelines and is not expected to return until 2022, while attacking issues have pushed Gavi to go further.
Photo by Alex Caparros /.
Xavi still lacks offensive options due to injuries, but Ousmane Dembele is available again. The Frenchman has been brilliant after coming off the bench against Benfica and should get more playing time here.
It’s unclear at this time if Dembele is fit enough to start the game or if he will face a place on the bench. Anyway, his return to physical form is a real boost for the Catalan giants.
If Dembele fails to do so, Xavi could turn to the youngsters again. Yusuf Demir can get the green light, other options are llias Akhomach and Ez Abde who are available again after missing the Champions League game.
XI possible: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, García, Alba; Nico, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Memphis, Gavi.
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Villarreal? Let us know your thoughts, predictions, and teams in the comments below!