A busy January continues for Barcelona as the Catalan giants travel to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Real Madrid in Riyadh.
Barça haven’t won the Supercopa in this new format and will be underdogs once again having to face the La Liga leaders who are in great form and will be favorites to win El Clásico.
Xavi has some serious reinforcements for this one as all of his best players were able to join the squad for the trip, so the Blaugrana will be considerably stronger and healthier to face their biggest rivals. Let’s see how Barça could line up on Wednesday.
Less than one week after undergoing surgery to repair two broken bones in his hand, Ronald Araujo made himself available for the trip and could feature in this one if he gets the medical clearance before the game. As of now, however, the Uruguayan is out and will most likely be on the bench even if he does get the green light.
With Araujo probably not starting and Eric García gone for the next five weeks with an injury there is very little doubt about the back four: Gerard Piqué and Clément Lenglet in the middle, Jordi Alba at left-back and Dani Alves on the right for his third straight start. Even at the age of 38 Alves looks in as good a shape as he did a decade ago, and Sergiño Dest doesn’t seem to have a real chance of taking his place right now.
The real doubt will be in goal: this is a Cup game and Xavi played Neto in the Copa del Rey last week, but will he opt for Marc-André ter Stegen in El Clásico? We’ll find out.
There’s some really big news for this one as Pedri has finally returned after missing the last three months with a persistent muscle injury and dealing with Covid-19 as well. The best young midfielder on the planet is a huge boost for Xavi and could already make an impact in El Clásico, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to start on Wednesday. After all, Ronald Koeman is gone.
With Pedri ready to make an impact from the bench and Frenkie De Jong hoping to be medically cleared in time to be a substitute as well, Xavi will most likely go with the same midfield three that started against Granada: Nico González, Sergio Busquets and Gavi, who was sent off in La Liga but can play in the Super Cup.
The good news continue to come when it comes to who’s available in attack: Ansu Fati was named in the squad and could be ready for the bench, and new signing Ferran Torres is finally set to make his debut after being registered and clearing Covid protocols. Neither is expected to start, but there are still several options for the front three which hasn’t been the case lately.
Memphis Depay returned from injury at the weekend and played 30 minutes which could be an indication that he starts in the Clásico. That would drop Luuk De Jong to the bench, possibly along with Ferran Jutglà who might see his spot on the left wing go to Ez Abde for this one.
Possible XI: Neto; Alves, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Memphis, Abde (4-3-3)
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