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Inigo, Felix start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could lineup against Royal Antwerp

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Coming off inarguably their best performance of the season so far with a dominant 5-0 win against Real Betis, Barcelona will shift their focus towards the UEFA Champions League group, where they take on Royal Antwerp.

After two years of back-to-back failures in the competition, being relegated to the Europa League, Barça will hope to get through to the Round of 16 without much hassle.

“We have to be in the last 16, it’s our main objective after two years without doing so. It’s the clear objective, to try to get through as group winners,” Xavi said during his pre-game press conference

While there is no margin for error, the hectic schedule at hand means the Catalans will have to rotate their team to avoid more injuries.

Ronald Araujo and Pedri are still sidelined, with the former expected to return for the weekend clash against Celta Vigo. The Spaniard, on the other hand, is out of action indefinitely.

Ahead of this clash, Barça Universal takes a look at how Xavi could lineup his side.

Defence

Barcelona are expected to line up in a traditional 4-3-3 for this game, primarily due to rotations, but also because the tactic worked wonders against Real Betis.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen will continue in goal after another flawless performance on the weekend.

The German should be guarded by a back-four headlined by Inigo Martinez, who could be handed his first start for the blaugranes. Andreas Christensen is expected to partner him, with Jules Kounde rested after a run of continuous games.

Elsewhere, Alejandro Balde will get the nod at left-back, while Joao Cancelo continues at right-back after a dream first start with the Catalans, scoring the fifth goal on Saturday.

Midfield

Gavi has played every single game for club and country since the season kickstarted, and is in need of some long-overdue rest. He should be rested, especially with Ilkay Gundogan fit to start in midfield.

(Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Frenkie de Jong will likely retain his spot next to the German. The 26-year-old has been in sensational form since last season, and is pretty much undroppable for Xavi in this new system.

Finally, Oriol Romeu will get the chance to play his first Champions League game in over a decade as he will hold the defensive midfield position.

Attack

Robert Lewandowski was evidently delighted with the inclusion of two more natural forwards in the starting lineup against Betis, and ended the game with a goal and two assists to his name.

He will continue to spearhead the team, with Joao Felix retaining his spot on the left side of the attack. The Portuguese was awarded the man of the match on his first start and looked settled in already.

Raphinha came off the bench to score the fourth goal of the game with a brilliant strike from outside the box. He should get his chance back in the starting lineup tomorrow on the right wing.

Felix · Lewandowski · Raphinha
de Jong · Romeu · Gundogan
Balde · Inigo · Christensen · Cancelo
ter Stegen

Substitutes

With most of the team finally clicking and the players in undroppable form, Xavi has a huge task on his hands. Some players are almost definitely expected to come off the bench for the game, starting with Ferran Torres, who is in impeccable form.

Xavi will also look to give Lamine Yamal his debut Champions League appearance, likely off the bench.

Regardless should the game call for it, Gavi will also be substituted in, most likely to give some rest to de Jong. Sergi Roberto is also an option to play in midfield in the absence of Pedri.

Marcos Alonso has been coming on for Balde during the last few minutes of the game, and Xavi will likely follow suit for this game as well.

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