The second of Barcelona’s eight games in October sees them return to action in the UEFA Champions League. The Catalans travel to Italy to face off against Inter Milan midweek in what is a crucial fixture from the point of view of the group of death.
After a solid, yet unconvincing win over Mallorca at the weekend, Barcelona will be pumped to get back into their free-flowing and goal-filled style of football. Without a doubt, Xavi Hernandez will make changes to his starting lineup at San Siro and deploy his strongest available lineup.
The Nerazzurri have lost their last two Serie A games, conceding five goals in the process. They are currently languishing at eighth in the league standings and are heading into the clash against Barcelona on a relatively low morale.
Barca Universal brings you three changes Xavi can make to his lineup on Tuesday that could have a direct bearing on the result.
1. Pedri for Franck Kessie
Last season, Franck Kessie was the heart and soul of AC Milian’s midfield. The Ivory Coast international saw Barcelona as the next big step in his career and ran down his contract in Italy to join the Spanish outfit.
However, he has found it difficult to see minutes under Xavi this season. He received a rare start at the weekend against Mallorca but was underwhelming for most of the 90.
While he did not make any obvious errors, he appeared very sluggish on the ball and lacked the finesse and agility that is expected of a Barcelona midfielder.
It is still early in the season, and the 25-year-old will have a key role to play in games to come with his unique profile.
However, Xavi will prefer to start Pedri in the decisive game, for the teenager has been Barcelona’s best midfielder by far. With his dynamicity, vision and ability on the ball, the Catalans will look to pull the strings in the middle of the park.
2. Raphinha for Ansu Fati
During the international break, Raphinha played out of his skin for the Brazilian National Team. He produced two goals and two assists in the hiatus from club football but started on the bench against Mallorca.
Though Ansu Fati had a good performance on Saturday, it is clear that Xavi’s first choice attacking trident is that of Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha. With so much resting on Tuesday’s result, the manager will take no chances and bring back the Brazilian into the starting lineup.
3. Eric Garcia for Jordi Alba
Faced with an acute shortage of options at right-back, Xavi opted to deploy Alejandro Balde at the right fullback position in the last game. As a result, Jordi Alba got a rare start at left-back.
Yet, the manager will want the youngster back on the left side for the game against Inter Milan. The solution to this problem could lie in the form of Eric Garcia.
The Spanish defender is capable of playing as a right-back and could relieve Balde from his estranged position. As an alternative, he could play at centre-back alongside Gerard Pique and Andreas Christensen, in what would be a change of formation.