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Three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Real Betis | La Liga

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona are one of just five unbeaten teams remaining in La Liga. The Catalans have won three of their four games so far this season, with the one draw coming in the opening matchday against Getafe.

They are two points behind league leaders Real Madrid, who have won four in four, and can afford to lose no more ground at this early juncture.

Matchday 5 pits the Blaugranas against Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis who sit seventh on the league standings. A win on Saturday could take them to provisional first place on the table, although Real Madrid play one day later and can reclaim their throne.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Real Betis.

The German question

When Ilkay Gundogan came crashing down in the first half of Germany’s game against France, it appeared certain that the veteran had suffered a serious injury. After all, he went off the field in tears.

Surprisingly, examinations conducted by Barça’s medical team confirmed that he had not suffered any direct physical injury. His participation against Real Betis, in theory, was possible despite the scare.

The cards are now in Xavi Hernandez’s hands and it remains to be seen how the Spanish tactician opts to deal them.

Pedri’s unavailability leaves Barcelona without a creator-in-chief on the field unless Gundogan plays. There is, needless to say, a strong case to deploy the German star. Yet, it would be advisable to tread the road of caution with him and rest him for one match day.

If Gundogan is fielded, he would join Frenkie de Jong and Oriol Romeu in the middle of the park with Gavi playing as a left-winger.

If the manager opts to rest the new signing, Gavi will likely play in midfield with Joao Felix or Ferran Torres featuring in the winger role.

Time to rotate

Xavi to rotate against Real Betis? (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

After two weeks off, Barcelona will be back in action this weekend. The game against Real Betis will be the first for the Catalans after the hiatus, but it will also mark the beginning of a testing period.

Starting Saturday, Xavi Hernandez’s men embark on a streak of six continuous games in less than 20 days. The aforementioned spell will include four games in La Liga and two UEFA Champions League clashes.

Needless to say, it is now time for the manager to begin seriously considering rotations and equally distribute the workload among his troops. Widespread changes can thus be expected tomorrow.

Not many changes are expected at the back. Frenkie de Jong, Oriol Romeu and Gavi could well start in midfield but it is in the forward line where things get interesting.

Lamine Yamal has played 130 of a possible 180 minutes in Barcelona’s last two league games before the international break. For Spain, he then played over 100 minutes across the two friendly games, and it is safe to say that the teenager could do with a rest.

Xavi could thus look to offer Raphinha the right-wing role against Los Verdiblancos, although he will also be dealing with some fatigue after playing for Brazil and the arduous travel during the international break.

The Brazilian suffered a difficult start to the season with a red card in his first appearance and subsequently found himself ousted by a 16-year-old prodigy. Saturday could be his chance to leave a lasting impression.

Meanwhile, Ferran Torres and Joao Felix are the two strong contenders to start on the left wing. The Spaniard has been in tremendous form in recent weeks and makes a strong case, while the Portuguese star is a more natural fit in the position.

Cancelo’s first start?

Joao Cancelo’s arrival to Catalonia on deadline day drew sufficient attention from the media and fans and has generated serious hype.

After all, the Portuguese right-back makes a strong case to be the ideal replacement for Dani Alves at Barcelona.

Cancelo made his debut for the club as a substitute against Osasuna before the hiatus. He played 30 minutes on the night and gave the world a glimpse of what he could do in the Blaugrana colours.

In his short cameo, Cancelo gave Cules enough reason to cheer and believe. Truth be told, he should have had his first assist as a Barcelona player on the night.

The Portuguese star could thus make his first start for Barcelona against Real Betis at Estadi Olimpic de Lluis Companys. The spotlight will be on him.

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