Xavi is likely to start with Ousmane Dembele and Jordi Alba when Barcelona take on Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Barcelona will have to earn their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League as they take on Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. It is a must-win game for the Catalans if they are to advance through to the Round of 16. A loss or draw may still suffice if Benfica drop points against Dynamo Kyiv, but anything else could see Barcelong being relegated to the Europa League.
Speaking ahead of the game on Tuesday, Xavi sounded confident about his team’s chances, assuring that Barcelona are ready to give their all. “We are prepared to compete, I hope the last defeats against Bayern do not affect us psychologically. I tell the players that now all the pressure is on me. We are going to try it,” he said when asked about his team’s record against Bayern.
The Barcelona boss also offered a vital update on the fitness of Jordi Alba heading into the game. The Spanish international had taken a slight knock on the weekend and was a doubt heading into this game. “Alba had discomfort on Saturday but we will see how he trains and how he is tomorrow. He wants to play,” he said.
It appears the left-back might make the cut on Wednesday, becoming a part of Barcelona’s pendulating back five that will comprise of three centre-backs in Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia. On the right flank, Xavi has a choice to make between Ousmane Dembele and Sergino Dest, but the former should get a starting opportunity against Bayern.
“Dembele is motivated, I see him happy and tomorrow he has to be a very important player for us. But not only him, it has to be a great performance of the whole team,” Xavi said when asked about the former Borussia Dortmund star during the pre-match pressss conference.
Moving into midfield, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets are more than likely to form the double-pivot, as Barcelona cope with the absences of Pedri and Sergi Roberto.
Hence, the onus will be on the advanced midfielders Nico and Gavi to occasionally aid the two central midfielders in the second line of press. Xavi could deploy Yusuf Demir or Abde Ezzalzouli in case he prefers more speed on the break. But Ansu Fati has missed the cut for the travelling squad due to injury, thus joining Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite in Barcelona’s list of attacking absentees.
So, the Blaugrana’s frontline will be spearheaded by Memphis Depay once again. The Dutchman needs to be much more clinical in front of goal than the reverse fixture. Xavi always has the option of deploying Luuk de Jong as well, in case he prefers a greater aerial presence inside the box.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Araujo, Pique, Garcia; Dembele, Busquets, de Jong, Alba; Nico, Gavi; Depay