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Gavi returns, Alba starts start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could lineup against Almeria



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will hope to dust off the ghosts of Manchester United and the Europa League as they turn their attention back towards La Liga tomorrow night. Almeria awaits them at the Estadio del Mediterraneo for gameweek 23.

Being eight points clear off Real Madrid in the table, Barça could have the chance to extend their lead as Carlo Ancelotti’s men take on Atletico Madrid.

On the contrary, any slip up at this point, especially after European humiliation could come back to seriously haunt Barcelona in the title race.

They are the favourites for the domestic treble, and must get things back in order before taking on Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.

Facing 17th-placed Almeria, Xavi has the chance to rotate and experiment tomorrow. A chance for the fringe players to grow into the team, while resting some key players as the schedule continues to get hectic.


In an ideal situation, tomorrow would have been ideal to rest Robert Lewandowski to keep him fit and fresh for the Madrid game. The Polish international has been in subpar form since the World Cup ended, and a weekend’s worth of rest could do him a world of good.

However, Ansu Fati picked up an injury in training yesterday, ruling him out for the Almeria clash. With Ousmane Dembele also sidelined, that leaves Xavi with just three first-team forwards. And by automation, Lewandowski becomes a starter tomorrow.

He will be aided by Raphinha, who was less-than-ideal against United in the second leg, but has scored and assisted four goals each in La Liga. The left-wing will likely see a start for Ferran Torres.

Gavi was suspended for the United game, and will be eager to get back into the midfield tomorrow. One can expect Franck Kessie to start alongside him in advanced midfield while Sergio Busquets takes the reins as the lone pivot.

Severely missed against United. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Xavi decided to take off Ronald Araujo as a precaution in midweek, and based on that, we can expect the Uruguayan to start from the bench tomorrow. This paves the way for Jules Kounde to start in central defence.

Similarly, we can expect some rest for Andreas Christensen, too, who will probably be replaced by Eric Garcia as the starting centre-half.

Sergi Roberto should be moved from left-wing to right-back, while Jordi Alba gets the nod over Alejandro Balde as the left-back.

This back-four will have the responsibility of shielding an in-form Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who looks for his 17th(!) clean sheet of the season.

Ferran · Lewandowski · Raphinha
Gavi · Busquets · Kessie
Alba · Eric · Kounde · Roberto
ter Stegen


With no other first-choice forwards available, Xavi will have to rely on the services of Angel Alarcon. The Spaniard made his debut against Cadiz last weekend.

Similarly, if the game is going in favour of Barça, Pablo Torre could finally be called into action. The youngster attacking acumen and creativity could help be sharpened in these few games as Barcelona look to reinforce the midfield in Pedri’s absence.

If he indeed starts from the bench, Frenkie de Jong is definitely an option to replace any of the three midfielders.

Not to forget Marcos Alonso, who continues to get minutes despite having not won over the Camp Nou faithful. Marc Casado could also be an option in midfield or right-back if he does, indeed, get the call-up.

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