Predicted Barcelona lineup against Real Sociedad as they travel to Estadio El Arcangel, Cordoba for the Spanish Super Cup 2021 in the hope of racking up some silverware for the season.
A new competition is a new shot at silverware. Though it may be the smallest of the competitions that the Blaugrana are set to participate in, any form of a trophy could be the final nail needed to turn the engine on completely.
Barcelona are in dire need of silverware to boost their morale, and the Super Cup could not come at a better time. It will also serve as a chance for Ronald Koeman to plead his case to the new president in the hope of getting more time. The Catalans were seen to have finally found their aura, and their football finally exudes joy. They head into the competition in the best form of the four participating sides.
What better opponent could Barcelona ask for too. Since their defeat to Barcelona, Real Sociedad have lost three of their five games. This has seen them slip from a confident tabletop position to fifth.
Imanol Alguacil (Real Sociedad coach): "I said goodbye to my wife for 10 days. I'm sure we will reach the final." pic.twitter.com/Axrit8tpoX— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) January 13, 2021
Barcelona gave up a lead in the dying minutes against Atletico Madrid to eliminate the Super Cup last season. This season, they will be back stronger than before knowing well that the margins are tight. Here is how Barcelona could line up against Real Sociedad:
Heading into a competition where the side is two wins away from silverware in this mixed season, Marc Andre ter Stegen would have been undoubtedly be the first choice in Ronald Koeman’s eyes to get a start in the high-pressure game, but given it is a cup game, giving minutes to Neto will be absolutely crucial.
While Ronald Araujo has been the standout performer in defence for the Blaugrana, Koeman will not be able to count on the Uruguayan as he misses out with a muscle injury. That means one could well expect a duo of Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza on the night, despite Samuel Umtiti’s tremendous display against Granada. While Lenglet has had a poor season so far by his standards, Mingueza had a stellar showing in the last game. With this being a do-or-die situation, nothing less than perfection will suffice.
Sergino Dest was taken off early against Granada, presumably as a precaution to keep him for the Supercup game. That being said, the USMNT defender can be expected to start on the night. He will be accompanied by Jordi Alba at left-back, doing what he does best. The Spaniard scored the all-important equaliser when the two sides met a fortnight ago. He will certainly be looking for more of the same
If anything is to be learnt of Koeman’s novel 4-3-3 approach, it is Frenkie de Jong‘s growth as a player and Koeman’s growth as a manager. The Dutchman has found a new light in his Barcelona career, and the last games have seen the best of him yet. He will be an undoubted starter for the side.
However, the benefits of returning to the system Barcelona call home has helped boost the performances of so many others, of whom Sergio Busquets is one. The veteran has seemed mighty comfortable back in his single-pivot role. He will be the defensive midfielder on the night.
Completing the midfield will be the young gem Pedri. The 18-year-old has become an undisputed starter in the side and has become the source of joy for teammates and fans alike. His ability to break lines with ease will be a weapon Ronald Koeman counts on desperately.
Ousmane Dembele‘s impressive performances have been the source for so many headlines. The Frenchman finally seems to be fit, and understand the position with maturity. He will start on the right-wing.
One would expect Antoine Griezmann to continue to start as the left-winger after an impressive display against Granada. Anything even close to a replica of that show would do Barcelona a world of good.
Leading the frontline from the centre-forward position will be Lionel Messi. The Argentine is undoubtedly back to his ruthless and looks happier than ever. As long as the talisman enjoys his football, great days are written in the books for Barcelona.
Griezmann · Messi · Dembele
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Mingueza · Dest
Given the weight of the fixture, it is implausible that Koeman will look to rotate too much unless the game has been comfortably won. That being said, Francisco Trincao will continue to be an option for the manager to get some width into the game.
On other fronts, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite will remain on the cards for the Dutchman to tighten the screw in the attack. They would likely come on to replace Sergio Busquets and Antoine Griezmann respectively
Predicted Barcelona lineup against UE Cornella
The restructuring of the Copa del Rey has been a mighty blow to all three Spanish Giants’ faces, namely Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. With all rounds reduced to single-legged ties with the lower division side getting home privileges, the Cup has become an inconvenience.
Last season, none of Barcelona or the giant Madrid outfits find a place in the semi-final. If that wasn’t enough of a jaw-dropper, this season’s story is a doozy. Atletico Madrid fell to UE Cornella as early as the first round of the tournament. Real Madrid bowed out with heads drooping last night after Alcoyano saw them off in the second round.
All eyes now rest on Barcelona. Could history be made with all three frontrunners going out in the first two rounds of the Spanish cup? Or will Ronald Koeman’s side find a blistering response to their humbling in the Supercup and see off the same side that sent Diego Simeone’s side packing? Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Cornella.
One expects heavy rotations on the night, starting right from the figure in between the posts. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could be given a deserved rest as Neto could feature in the Cup game.
In central defence, one could expect Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet start the game with young Araujo given a break. While this is understandably crucial for Umtiti’s confidence, much can be said of Lenglet’s recent lack of rhythm. Such a game will provide him with the pedestal to deliver a confidence-boosting effort.
Ronald Koeman confirmed to the press that Sergino Dest will miss the coming clash through muscular troubles. This will put the onus on young Oscar Mingueza to cover at right-back and stay solid to stop a potential counter.
With Jordi Alba having a forgettable game in the Super Cup final and keeping in mind the tight schedule, Junior Firpo could indeed start on Thursday night. It will be a crucial game for the youngster, and probably one of his last chances to impress any potential suitors in the transfer market.
After seeing a lot of action from the benches in recent games, Miralem Pjanic will likely start the game at defensive midfield. It is a role that the Bosnian is adept at. Pjanic will relish the chance to prove his worth in a homely position as the orchestrator.
With the recent increase in minutes for Riqui Puig, it would not be wrong to expect him to start for the rotated team on Thursday. The youngster does indeed possess an X factor about him and has the ability to decide games with his accurate yet silky passes.
The midfield could be rounded off by Ilaix Moriba who has been on the bench for the last couple of games. The Barcelona B youngster is touted for great things to come, and this could be the start of hopefully, what is a long and successful career at the Blaugrana club.
The biggest news in the forward department is the suspension of Lionel Messi which will see him suspended for the coming game. This room put more pressure on the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, both of whom now have a golden chance to prove their worth.
With this being one of Barcelona’s most realistic title hopes for the season, Koeman cannot take it lightly. Konrad de la Fuente could start on the left-wing, getting the chance he has been longing for so long. It will be the perfect night for him to go after the Cornella defenders and grab a goal or two.
Martin Braithwaite will likely start as the centre-forward on the night. While he has seen less of action off late, circumstances now demand for the Dane to start. It will be absolutely crucial for him to get his runs and off the ball movement perfectly timed if Barcelona breaks Cornella’s defence.
The lineup will be completed by Fransisco Trincao on the right-wing. Nevertheless, with Lionel Messi absent, this is the chance for the Portuguese to impress. He will have complete authority over the position he calls home as he looks to take on more responsibility.
Konrad · Braithwaite · Trincao
Puig · Pjanic · Ilaix
Firpo · Umtiti · Lenglet · Mingueza
Alex Collado is an option on the right-wing and possesses the ability to turn the game around. It would not be a surprise to see him come on for Konrad or Trincao during the game
Konrad, on the other hand, is a perfect deputy for Ousmane Dembele, and consequentially could see the Frenchman return to his favoured spot in the lineup if push comes to shove.
While the rotated squad will likely start the game, circumstances might force Koeman to bring in bigger names if the side need a goal. Therefore Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Jordi Alba too might see minutes towards the end of the game