It feels cruel to ask a team to bounce back so many times after devastating defeats. Yet, it is the team that puts one in such a situation.
Let’s be honest, Barcelona are not a side poor enough to remand a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of a depleted Paris Saint-Germain side. Not to mention, one in their so-called fortress.
The problems of the side extend beyond the concept of quality, this is now a serious psychological malfunction. Not even the best psychiatrists could resolve the kind of mental low that the Catalans are in, or have been in recently.
The occasional ups have not compensated for the damage sustained by the lows this season, not for the players, neither the fans. The games come hard and fast irrespectively, and up ahead, Barcelona faces Cadiz. A newly promoted side that the Catalans succumbed to in their last meeting. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Cadiz, giving Ronald Koeman the chance to make full use of his side’s depth.
Marc Andre ter Stegen was chosen as Barcelona’s best player by multiple outlets despite conceding, aptly summarising the game. Undoubtedly, he will be on the starting lineup against Cadiz.
Gerard Pique was rushed into the PSG game after a long hiatus from competitive football. The decision did not go well, with even Lenglet heavily disappointing once again.
On Sunday, Pique will certainly get his second start after his return from injury. However, one doubts if Lenglet will still hold on to the position. With Ronald Araujo still not fit, Oscar Mingueza could feature alongside the World cup winner to complete the centre back pairing.
Sergino Dest, himself just a few games into the period after his recovery, had a dramatic game in the Champions League. Up directly against Kylian Mbappe, even the young USMNT star struggled to keep up defensively. Back in La Liga now, Dest will look to make amends and start putting up noticeable performances once again.
Jordi Alba will be the guaranteed starter at left-back. With Barcelona looking for a bounce-back performance, it is imperative that Koeman plays all his trump cards to their fullest.
Sergio Busquets endured another rough outing in a European clash. The veteran has struggled umpteen times in recent years to be able to keep up with the pace of high-intensity clashes in the Champions League. It seems the midfielder at this stage in his career can provide more to the League than on the big stage. That said, his start against Cadiz is almost certain.
Frenkie de Jong and Pedri struggled to influence the game midweek. The young and dynamic duo have had sensational 2021’s. The run was however put to an end at the Camp Nou where they both had despicable performances.
Now, both are raring to come back strong, and once again dictate games. The lack of productive possession spells seems to be the undoing of the Blaugranas come any big game. And if that aspect is to improve, the duo of Pedri and De Jong will have to be at the top of their game.
If there was one highlight that Barcelona would like to treasure from their last outing it would be that dazzling run from Fransisco Trincao from the midline. That play seemed to do more than Ousmane Dembele contributed in the entire game. That said, the Portuguese starlet could well earn a deserved start over the French winger.
Antoine Griezmann is under constant pressure to prove himself at Barcelona. With growing links to Erling Halaand and talks of major sales to fund the same, the Frenchman has to once again prove his worth to the Catalan faithful. He will be gunning for a couple of goals or assists on the night.
Lionel Messi did have a quiet night midweek in what might have been his last UCL game at the Camp Nou. His departure seems imminent, however, that doesn’t change the fact that the Argentine gives his all on the pitch every time he graces it. Nothing indicates the captain will be rested against Cadiz, nor is there a reason to do so.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Pique · Mingueza · Dest
Whenever on the bench, Ousmane Dembele provides his manager with a potent weapon to unleash late in the game. The Frenchman could be the ideal tool to crank open the opposition’s defence.
Miralem Pjanic could be the ideal option to replace Busquets and inject some energy into the midfield if the situation demands so.
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Osasuna — Ilaix, Trincao to replace Pedri, Dembele
A last gasp equaliser brought action of the highest calibre into a dramatic game at the Camp Nou against Sevilla. With the odds against them, Ronald Koeman’s side once again overturned a deficit and came back to win the game. It had happened in Granada and it did happen once again, this time over two legs.
Emotions ran high, celebrations went beserk and rightfully so. It had been years since Barcelona experienced that kind of adrenaline and positivity about themselves. Kudos to Ronald Koeman, for he has instilled an unquenchable thirst amongst the same crop of players that were once said to be ‘mentally weak’.
The weekend promises to be an eventful one for La Liga. The scheduled Madrid Derby provides massive opportunity for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid to drop points. Meanwhile, Barcelona will look to pick up all the three points away at Osasuna to bridge that gap. The League could be a realistic shot of this weekend goes as planned. Or so they say. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Osasuna.
If anyone still has acquaintances who say Marc-Andre ter Stegen disappears in big games, do not hesitate to put forth the clash against Sevilla. At a time when everything seemed lost, Ter Stegen pulled Barcelona out of the mud again. A sensational penalty save under the highest of pressure. He will certainly hold onto his spot on Saturday.
Gerard Pique’s injury against Sevilla has now left him a doubt even for the clash against PSG next week. That said, Koeman could likely look to revert back to his 4-3-3 approach.
Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet would be the best possible centre-half pairing given the options available. While Mingueza did indeed give away a penalty, his individual performance midweek was one of the highest quality. The youngster impressed yet again with his calm, yet ‘no nonsense’ attitude.
Lenglet on the other hand has been dormant for Barcelona. In recent weeks, despite not doing any harm, he has not even produced any match-defining moments. It does appear that the Frenchman is slowly regaining his confidence. Saturday will undoubtedly be a huge step forward for him if the Catalans do maintain a clean sheet.
Sergino Dest continues to be the first choice Right back this season, moreover so with Sergi Roberto injured. However, that spark going forward that the world witnessed in his first few games is now not to be found. The American international has been superb in defence, yet there is a sentiment that he is capable of so much more going forward.
Jordi Alba will continue to hold onto his spot at the left-back. Whenever Barcelona have found themselves in a pressure cooker situation, the Spaniard has stepped it up a notch. With yet another assist in his tally, Alba looks more confident than ever.
Despite all the criticism constantly hurled at him, Sergio Busquets has been almost flawless in his last few appearances. Defensively more solid than ever and actually now covering more ground than before, we could be seeing the resurgence of a new version of the Spanish defensive midfielder. He will start as the deep midfielder on the night
After an injury scare and another stressful game immediately after injury, Pedri might be rested on Saturday. In his place, one could expect Ilaix Moriba to get his second start. The La Masia talent has been mature beyond his years, and an influential cog in both of Barcelona’s wins last week. This could be his time to shine.
Frenkie de Jong will round up the midfield. The Dutchman’s renewed role has brought out the best in him as well as the team. He has now finally cemented his place as an undisputed and deserved starter in every game. He will play as the advanced midfielder on the night.
Antoine Griezmann has been benched for three starts in a row. Though the decision might be tactical, it clearly shows that if the coach has a high-pressure clash which is a must-win scenario, he doesn’t count on the Frenchman. Griezmann ultimately did come off the bench and deliver the assist for Gerard Pique’s last gasp equaliser. However, the #7 will be more determined than ever to find a way back into Koeman’s main XI. The first step to that goal? A great showing against Osasuna.
Lionel Messi will continue to lead from the centre forward role as he looks to extend his lead in the Pichchi race. The Argentine has had a sublime 2021, and a goal or two against Osasuna would reiterate his blistering form.
With Ousmane Dembele too suffering an injury scare, Koeman would prefer to stay on the conservative side. Fransisco Trincao provides a more than a potent backup option, and the Portuguese winger could get a start come Saturday on the right-wing.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Ilaix · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Pique · Dest
Riqui Puig has not been used in the past few games, understandably due to the physicality involved in these clashes. Tonight could be the time to once again unleash the youngster in the latter half of the game.
Miralem Pjanic is back from injury, and has received the medical green light. The Bosnian could replace Sergio Busquets in the second half to provide the Spaniard with some much-needed rest and rotation.
Ousmane Dembele could too come on in the second half, to open up and exploit spaces if Barcelona are chasing a goal.