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Pedri, Raphinha start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona should lineup against PSG

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona may have come out of the first leg against PSG as victors, but the job is far from done. The second leg, tomorrow at the Olympic Saint Montjuic, is war, as Xavi claimed.

Not only is Xavi’s and the squad’s reputation on the line, but Barcelona will also try to shed the ghosts of their European past as they look to put the game to bed at home.

Facing them, though, is the monster they created in Luis Enrique. “If they can score four, we can score six” – the quote would be ringing loudly in Barcelona fans’ years from their win against Paris in 2017.

However, Barcelona have all forms of advantage ahead of the tie. They are leading the tie by a goal, and also will be playing at home.

And while the Montjuic has not been the fortress that Camp Nou was, the stadium is expected to be full to the brim tomorrow, and if Xavi gets his tactics right once again, Barcelona can see the game through without too many problems.

Defence: Unchanged backline

Apart from the five minutes of the second-half when Barcelona lost concentration, the Catalan defence line put up an absolute monsterclass, keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet for the entirety of the game.

They must do even better tomorrow, as PSG will try to attack even more, and from the first-minute onwards, as well.

It seems unlikely Xavi will make any changes to the back-four from the first-leg, with Pau Cubarsi and Ronald Araujo expected to take charge of central defence, screening Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Joao Cancelo is in line to start as a left-back once again after missing the Cadiz game on the weekend due to suspension. Jules Kounde will have one of the most important jobs, facing Kylian Mbappe as the right-back.

Midfield: No Christensen, Roberto

Xavi was dealt with a huge blow in the first-leg, with Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto picking up suspensions that will keep them out of the return tie.

With both players out, Xavi’s options in defensive midfield become extremely limited. Ilkay Gundogan has proven to be much more impactful in an advanced role, and will retain his spot there.

Mammoth task on de Jong’s shoulders. (Photo via Getty Images)

Pedri and Frenkie de Jong will take up the lion’s share of the defensive duties as part of the trident, with the latter expected to start as the no. 6.

Attack: Yamal the only doubt

After Raphinha’s exceptional performances in the last month, especially the one against PSG, there is no doubt that the Brazilian will start tomorrow, too, presumably as a left-winger.

Robert Lewandowski’s spot in the team is also not under threat, after a masterclass in the first-leg despite not scoring. He will be key in beating the PSG press, as he did, and laying off chances for his peers in attack.

Lamine Yamal essentially created the first goal for Barcelona, but was kept relatively quiet through the game by Nuno Mendes, who put in a hell of a shift as a left-back. He will be key, regardless, and should start as the right-winger.

Raphinha · Lewandowski · Yamal
Pedri · de Jong · Gundogan
Cancelo · Cubarsi · Araujo · Kounde
ter Stegen

Substitutes

With two midfielders out, Fermin Lopez will be very important for Barcelona in any situation of the game. While he is not the best at retaining possession, the Spaniard brings a lot of intensity to any situation, which will be key defensively.

Xavi could also rely on Ferran Torres in the second half to make a difference behind the PSG backline with his runs, depending on one of Yamal or Raphinha’s performances.

Joao Cancel will have to do a lot of defensive work in this game, and could be subbed out in favour of Inigo Martinez or Hector Fort, who are more defensively adept.

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