The brief halt of Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye. However, the jingling of the bells was not as merry at the Camp Nou. The ever-generous Santa has received requests for a gift which may be beyond his capacity. Could a door to compete for the league title still be in store for Barcelona? It would seem not, yet one hopes there is
Nevertheless, the next task at hand for the Catalans is that of visitors Eibar. Mendilibar’s side has had a below-average start to the season, and find themselves at the wrong end of the table. They have pulled out just three wins from their 15 games so far, having lost and drawn six each.
Barcelona, on the other hand, signed off before the break-in great spirits. An all-round showing against Real Valladolid could be the splinter to light up their season. Here is how Barcelona could line-up against Eibar.
One of the very few constants in the team, Marc Andre Ter Stegen will be eyeing for what would be his ninth start in the League this season. The German has shown no signs of rustiness since coming back from his injury. Undoubtedly, he would be Ronald Koeman’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of this vital clash.
The game against Real Valladolid displayed yet another interesting experiment from the manager. Koeman chose to go with a three-man defence, thereby partly liberating the full-backs from their defensive duties. With their renewed role as wingbacks, the combination resulted in an enhanced attacking display, well distributed on both wings.
With the initial trial proving to be a success, one could expect Koeman to repeat the hypothesized formula to success. Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo, and Oscar Mingueza could all see starts on the night, an experiment every Culé hopes works again.
With Jordi Alba out through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow of the season, Junior Firpo, one would expect to start on the night. It will be a major test for the youngster who is already being linked out of the club. Firpo was predominantly a wing-back in his days at Real Betis, and Tuesday night could be his best chance to prove his ability.
Sergino Dest would be expected to continue duties on the right. With the defensive chains more or less cut, the young American could well let loose at the Camp Nou come Tuesday
Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic have consistently shown to have a more harmonious relationship on the pitch. Once again against Valladolid, the Dutch-Bosnian pairing worked wonders. Considering the high probability of Koeman giving a new system another opportunity, the duo could feature once again.
The most notable absentee from Barcelona’s squad list is Lionel Messi, with the club reporting an ankle injury to the Argentine. Undoubtedly, the squad will have to work harder than ever to fill that void of creativity.
It will be the night to step up for Pedri. The young Spaniard has been phenomenal on so many fronts. Now, it remains to be seen how much he can replicate on his own. He will start in front of the double pivot and operate right behind the front two.
Martin Braithwaite and Antoine Griezmann round up the XI combining to form the front two. Antoine Griezmann will be the focal point against Eibar. Being the sole candidate to occupy his natural position, the Frenchman could not ask for a better chance to prove his worth.
Braithwaite · Griezmann
Firpo · de Jong · Pjanic · Dest
Lenglet · Araujo · Mingueza
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Elche — Trincao to start, Lenglet benched
Barcelona continue to fall; the draw to Cadiz could not come at a worse time for a squad healing from humiliation and devastation. When they had the ideal chance to close the gap on Atletico Madrid, the Blaugranas once again fell meekly to inflict damage to themselves
However, hope still lives on in the league. It may be faint, but it is a reason for Barcelona to fight on. The league continues with the clash against Elche on Wednesday. Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Elche.
Hopes in the league are getting dire indeed, as Barcelona continue to dig their own Grave. With yet another opportunity to close the gap squandered, Marc Andre ter Stegen will certainly start in goal. After all, this is not the time for rotation
The centre back crisis worsens day by day. Clement Lenglet has been largely scapegoated, however, the errors in the team are far beyond an individual level. On the night, Gerard Pique and Oscar Mingueza would be the ideal pairing, given Araujo’s yet impending return to action. As for Samuel Umtiti, it seems after his performance against Sevilla, his time with Barcelona is limited.
At left-back, Jordi Alba will continue to rack up another start as Koeman looks to get guaranteed points on the board. The Spaniard’s abilities will need to be utilised to the fullest for the Catalans to turn their season around.
One of the positives from the game against Cadiz was the positive performance from Sergino Dest. On the back of that stellar attacking display, there seem to be no doubts on the USMNT star’s start on Wednesday.
After starting two games in a row, Sergio Busquets might well be rested on the night. The Spaniard would ideally be replaced by Miralem Pjanic, who could orchestrate the Catalan attack from the shadows. Though the Bosnian has received backlash for his extensive sideways passing, he has hardly put a for wrong when given the chance.
The midfield would ideally be completed by Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig. The Dutchman has more or less kept up his great start to the year, and the renwed role sees him in the box more often than not, thereby providing his side with a target man.
Riqui, on the other hand, would be a like for like replacement for Pedri, who has been criminally overused. The La Masia star provides a similar output, and it’s one risk that might be worth taking for the manager
It is criminal how Fransisco Trincao has pulled up stellar performances when given a chance, yet not rewarded with a start. Tonight could be the night for the winger, as he could start on the right-wing.
Lionel Messi will continue to lead the side from the front, acting as the centre forward and playmaker as he always does. The Argentine’s performance has a gigantic effect on the outcome, and once again, he will prove to be decisive.
Antoine Greizmann will complete the lineup on the left-wing. The Frenchman has seen a sudden low after a great start to the season. This is the time for him to put a stop to the lows and once again welcome the highs.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Puig · Pjanic · de Jong
Alba · Pique · Mingueza · Dest
Ousmane Dembele as always will be a worthy weapon on the bench for Ronald Koeman. His speed, agility and dribbling could well unlock the tight defence.
Pedri too will likely be called up in the second half. Barcelona with the 18-year-old are a totally different beast. The difference is conspicuous and startling! He will be decisive on the night.