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Dest, Aubameyang in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could line up against Espanyol



Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Before setting eyes at the Europa League, Barcelona have their work cut out in the league as they make the trip across the city to take on derby rivals Espanyol in gameweek 24. A win could mean Barcelona leapfrog Real Betis into third place, provided the Seville outfit cannot take the win away at Levante.

Xavi started his managerial stint at Barcelona with a narrow 1-0 win over Espanyol, and this would be his first chance to register a double.

The team at his disposal, compared to the previous derby, is quite different, though. Pedri has returned from his injury, Dani Alves is back at the Camp Nou, and three forwards have been added in the winter transfer window.

Coming off the back of the sensational win over Atletico Madrid, how will Barcelona line up?

With the podium in foresight, we do not expect Xavi to change much in defence. Dani Alves will not be seen in a Barcelona shirt at least until the end of the month due to his red card. Sergino Dest is expected to replace him at right-back during that time, including tomorrow against Espanyol.

Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo are the mainstays in the defence and will likely retain their place as the two centre-halves tomorrow. Following his sensational volley vs Diego Simeone’s men, Jordi Alba will probably continue at left-back. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will continue in goal barring any surprises.

Xavi is spoilt for choice in midfield but will likely not make changes from the game against Atletico. Pedri‘s stocks have been rising continually without fail; he is expected to start alongside Frenkie de Jong as central midfielders.

The controller. (Photo via Getty Images)

With no competitors in that role, Sergio Busquets will probably retain his spot as the defensive midfield.

Gavi started the previous game as the left-winger in an attempt to overload the midfield. However, given Espanyol’s mid and low block, we expect Xavi to go with a very attacking front-three.

Adama Traore came home to a man of the match second debut, and there is very little chance that he’ll be moved away from the right-wing. On the left, Ferran Torres could get the nod over others, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gets to make his first start in the garnet and blue.

Predicted Barça XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Araujo, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, de Jong; Adama, Aubameyang, Torres

In the unforeseen circumstance he does not start, Gavi, in all likelihood, will come off the bench. The same goes for Nico Gonzalez, who has played every single game under the new manager.

Going by what Xavi said, it won’t be too farfetched to see Ousmane Dembele get some minutes in the second half.

Eric Garcia will be included in the squad list, as confessed by Xavi. His involvement, however, will probably be reduced to a few minutes off the bench.

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