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Three Barcelona players who need to be axed for the Villarreal game

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid is set to cause massive repercussions within the Barça camp.

For the long term, the board is already looking to reinforce their ranks in the upcoming January transfer window. But in the short term, we may witness Xavi making some crucial changes when Barça take on Villarreal on Thursday.

Here, at Barça Universal, we will take a look at three players that are in contention to be axed from the starting eleven in the Villarreal game.

Sergio Busquets

Sergio Busquets has become a scapegoat at Barcelona in light of his poor performances in recent matches. The midfielder was one of the worst performers in midweek’s contest against Inter Milan. It was the same case against Real Madrid too, with the veteran notably getting outplayed by his counterparts, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

With Busquets struggling to exert himself in the middle of the park, it will not come as a surprise to see Xavi making a change in the defensive midfield position.

Frenkie de Jong is the favourite to replace him in the number six slot. The Dutchman offers the technical ability, which is coupled with his tendency to make darting runs into attacking areas. However, another option is Franck Kessie.

The Ivorian is yet to hit the ground running since joining Barça, but his athleticism and stamina could be useful commodities in the second line of press. It would balance well with the technical prowess of players such as Gavi and Pedri.

Sergi Roberto

Sergi Roberto is another player likely to be axed from the starting eleven against Villarreal. The Barcelona ace was deployed at right-back against Real Madrid, but he had major difficulties keeping up with the pace of Vinicius Junior.

In light of Roberto’s subpar performance, Xavi might be compelled to remove him from the starting eleven. Alejandro Balde appears to be the favourite to occupy his spot on the right-hand side. However, the returning Jules Kounde is also an option, though that is unlikely to be the case due to the depleted numbers at centre-back.

Unfortunately for Xavi, he does not have many options, especially with Hector Bellerin and Ronald Araujo still on the sidelines.

Ousmane Dembele

One more player in contention to be benched against Villarreal is Ousmane Dembele. Following an excellent start to the year, the French winger has struggled to find his foothold this season and has only registered two goals in nine matches.

Dembele’s recent performances have appeared monotonous, with the winger not adding much in terms of creativity. It could lead to Xavi making a change in the final third against Villarreal, especially given how the likes of Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres performed after coming on as a substitute in El Clasico.

One would expect Fati to replace Dembele on the left flank, which would allow Raphinha to ply his trade on his usual right side. Their collective creativity and dynamism could offer a new edge to the Barça attack, in their quest to break down the Villarreal backline.

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