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Barcelona's tactical options to replace Rafinha Alcântara

Barça now have a short squad for a very busy end of the season, and lose a key component of the team's new tactical system

Granada CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Barcelona lost midfielder Rafinha Alcântara to a meniscus injury that is likely to sideline him until the end of the season. The Brazilian was hurt on last Sunday's La Liga match against Granada, and with an arthroscopy scheduled for Friday, Rafinha won't be back for at least a month.

This is a crucial blow to Barça in the most important part of the campaign. After losing Arda Turan to a groin injury, the Blaugrana now lose another important squad player that has become a key component of the team's new tactical setup. The 3-3-1-3 has worked very well over the last few weeks thanks to Rafinha and Neymar keeping the width on the wings, allowing Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta to dominate the central areas and create threats all over the pitch.

Without Rafinha, we've already seen Luis Enrique trying different things. On Sunday's match against Granada, in which Barça played a basic 4-3-3 formation, Paco Alcácer came in as a right winger and did very well, scoring and assisting while providing good defensive covering. Against Sevilla on Wednesday, Enrique once again used the 3-3-1-3, this time with Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic alternating spots on the right flank, and both did quite well in the middle and on the wing.

Denis Suarez and André Gomes haven't played much in recent weeks, but both have played on the wings at other clubs and at Barça. They could also be tested at Málaga this weekend, which might give Lucho an extra tactical option for the crucial Champions League match against Juventus in Italy.

Rafinha's injury is a blow because it shortens the amount of options in Luis Enrique's rotation system, but there are options to replace him, either with a 4-3-3 or 3-3-1-3 formation. Barça are in good form and can cope with the absence of an important player, so we should be in good shape even without Rafinha.

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