Three new attackers and one defender could all start, but perhaps they won’t - at least at first. Players such as Traoré and Aubameyang haven’t had the chance to train with the team too long, so they may need some time to slowly build up rhythm. This is much more true of the latter, who has been out of action since early December and has had less time to adapt than the former.
Still, when all are fit and firing, will they all start? It’s certainly possible. Torres and Aubameyang are both capable of playing as a striker or as a winger, but it seems Xavi has told the Gabonese that he sees him in the “9” position. That would leave Torres to operate on the wing. Traoré could then take the other flank.
Alves has already been the preferred choice at right-back, meaning Xavi wants to use him for the biggest games. The biggest games in La Liga, that is, as he has not been registered for the UEFA Europa League. The boss has prioritized league competition and does not want his 38-year-old fullback playing more than one game a week.
Torres has also cemented himself as a starter. Coming back from injury and COVID, plus the fact that he was new to the team, all could have held him back but he seems to be a key player now that he has adapted to life in Barcelona.
Aubameyang faces competition to be the team’s main striker, from Luuk de Jong, Martin Braithwaite, and Memphis Depay. De Jong has been the starter recently but it’s been a short term solution. Braithwaite is just coming back from injury so he may not be ready to start. Meanwhile, Memphis has picked up an injury and can’t play for the moment.
Traoré faces competition chiefly from Ousmane Dembélé out on the wing. Ansu Fati will surely be in contention as well once he recovers to playing shape. There’s also Abde Ezzalzouli, but surely he is a backup for now. The same could be said of Ferran Jutglà and Ilias Akhomach, who have started matches but primarily due to necessity.
Rumors say Dembélé could start against Atlético Madrid, despite whispers that he would be permanently frozen out after refusing to renew his contract. His talent is undeniable, but his commitment to the team has been questioned. Still, his teammates, such as Alves and Torres, have said the Frenchman can help the team.
It seems unlikely Xavi will make further changes to his gala XI in areas where the team made no signings, although of course, it could happen over the remainder of the season. That means that the goalkeeper, left-back, centerbacks, and midfield would remain unchanged.
It will be interesting how he lines up in the Europa League without Alves, however. He has not given as much time to Sergiño Dest, but that would be the logical choice to supplant Alves. Otherwise, Ronald Araújo could play as a right-back, or Xavi could switch to a back three. Perhaps Traoré could play as a right-wingback.
In addition to Alves, Torres seems like a sure starter. Traoré and Aubameyang will be in contention, for sure. Xavi will have choices to make.