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Felix, Fermin start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona should lineup against Atletico Madrid

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Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona’s tough schedule has only just started as the final third of the season gets heated just before the last international break, as well. 

Coming off an inspiring 4-2 win against Napoli at home in the Champions League round of 16 on aggregate, the Catalans will now take on Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano tomorrow night in an attempt to cut down Real Madrid’s ten-point lead at the top of the table. 

While Barça prevailed in the reverse fixture, courtesy of a goal from none other than Joao Felix, this game will prove to be tougher as Diego Simeone’s are coming off an inspiring win against Inter Milan in the Champions League.

Further, Atletico will also be seeking revenge on Felix, especially, and will likely go all guns blazing from the get-go.

Ahead of this nervy tie, Barça Universal takes a jab at the starting lineup Xavi should go for, in an ideal situation.

Defence: Araujo back

Ronald Araujo picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Athletic Club in the 0-0 win last fortnight and missed the 1-0 win against Mallorca the following weekend.

He looked fresh as ever on his return vs Napoli, though, and should be the first name in the backline tomorrow. In his aid, we assume Xavi will go for Pau Cubarsi in the heart of the quartet, but Inigo Martinez will be as safe a choice given his experience and form.

Jules Kounde has been in scintillating form, as well, and there should be no doubt about his place as the right-back in the back-line. And with no other option on the left side, Joao Cancelo will be given the nod once again.

This back-four will be given the responsibility to screen Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has looked far from his best after coming back from his back injury.

Midfield: Let Fermin cook again

After no changes in the defence, we hope that Xavi makes no adjustments in the midfield, either.

With Frenkie de Jong and Pedri out injured, Fermin Lopez was given the chance he deserved against Napoli and he came through with the opener on the night. He could have had a couple, to be fair, if not for some poor finishing.

Clutch. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

That said, he should be given the nod over Sergi Roberto, definitely, mostly because of how much energy Atleti’s midfield has, usually.

Ilkay Gundogan and Andreas Christensen will be the other two pieces in the centre of the park partnering the Spaniard, almost acting as a double pivot on occasions.

Attack: Let Felix have a go

Joao Felix was very vocal about this game in an interview, saying how much he thrives off ‘spicy games’. And his statements are not far away from the truth, to be fair.

The Portuguese definitely takes his performances up a notch when there is a chip on his shoulder, and tomorrow is another occasion when he will want to prove something, and should be given the nod to start as the left-winger.

Robert Lewandowski has definitely stepped up his game in recent times, as well, and there is little denying his contributions.

He will likely get the get-go as the striker, and the final call will be between Lamine Yamal and Raphinha, and we expect the former to be chosen, partly to take advantage of Mario Hermoso on that flank.

Felix · Lewandowski · Yamal
Gundogan · Christensen · Fermin
Cancelo · Cubarsi · Araujo · Kounde
ter Stegen

Substitutes

Sergi Roberto’s cameo vs Napoli certainly would have impressed Xavi, with the captain coming back with an assist for Lewandowski’s goal. Therefore, he is definitely in contention to get a fair few minutes, if he does not start the game in the first place.

Raphinha, too, will be likely brought on at some point in the second half to add more energy to the attack, or perhaps, even the midfield.

Should Barcelona feel secure at any point, Xavi could add depth to the defence, with Oriol Romeu and Inigo Martinez as options to come on despite the former’s demotivating 30 minutes vs Napoli.

One, or both of Vitor Roque and Marc Guiu will also be in contention to get some time on the bench, especially should Barcelona be trailing at any given moment in the second half.

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