Following the shock defeat that was against Villarreal 3-5 at home, Barcelona fans received an even bigger surprise as Xavi announced his decision to leave the club at the end of the season despite renewing after winning La Liga last season.
The blaugranes are now winless in their last two games, and will be hoping to bounce back tomorrow as they take on Osasuna at the Olympic Saint Montjuic for a juicy midweek clash.
Last season’s Copa del Rey finalists and this year’s Spanish Super Cup semi-finalists, Osasuna are not doing particularly well this season around, sitting 12th in La Liga with seven wins in 22 games.
They have, however, only lost one of their last seven games, and are coming off an impressive display against Sevilla away from home where a second half goal from Ante Budimir earned them a point.
It will not be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination for Barça, especially with so many key players injured. Joao Felix was the latest to enter this list, and will miss at least a month of football.
Not to forget, Osasuna will be looking for revenge after their controversial defeat against the blaugranes in the Supercopa.
With that in mind, Barça Universal predict Xavi’s choice of starting lineup for the game tomorrow.
Defence: Cancelo starts at left-back
Despite Inaki Pena’s continued poor performances, Xavi has no option except sticking with the Spaniard for tomorrow’s game, too. The good news is that Marc-Andre ter Stegen is expected to be back next weekend against Granada.
With Alejandro Balde out, Hector Fort was given the license to start against Villarreal at left-back, but to little to no critical success.
The teenager is expected to be benched tomorrow, however, with Joao Cancelo nearly back to 100% fitness. Jules Kounde will likely hold the width on the other side.
Andreas Christensen has been playing with severe discomfort in his ankle, and his performance against Villarreal was also quite disappointing. As such, we predict Ronald Araujo and Pau Cubarsi to get the nod in central defence to screen Pena.
Midfield: Pedri returns
Pedri started on the bench against the Yellow Submarine, but came on at half-time to completely change the game. He will almost definitely get to start tomorrow in central midfield.
Ilkay Gundogan will hope to keep up his spectacular form, too, as he takes his place as the starting pivot, replacing Oriol Romeu from the weekend clash. Frenkie de Jong should be his partner in crime, hoping to redeem himself from the subpar displays recently.
Attack: First start for Roque?
16-year-old Lamine Yamal has played around 300 minutes across the last three games, and should definitely not start tomorrow despite the lack of players in the squad.
While unlikely, we hope and expect Vitor Roque to be given his first start, albeit as a left-winger tomorrow, while Robert Lewandowski continues to lead the line as the centre-forward.
With the right-wing slot open, Ferran Torres has been one of Barcelona’s only available players throughout the season, and will be called up to replicate his exploits against Real Betis.
Roque · Lewandowski · Ferran
de Jong · Gundogan · Pedri
Cancelo · Cubarsi · Araujo · Kounde
Should he not start, Lamine Yamal will likely be one of the first players introduced off the bench by Xavi given how much the Spaniard’s presence has changed the attack over the last three games.
Fermin Lopez is due for some minutes now, too, and could be called on from the bench alongside Oriol Romeu, who was definitely one of the better performers against Villarreal.
Barcelona have also relied on Marc Guiu as a sub in recent weeks, and he could get some time tomorrow, especially if the team is chasing the game at any point.