Barcelona begin on Tuesday their preparations for Sunday’s La Liga match against Cádiz, the Blaugrana’s second contest in their title defense and their first official game at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium. They will be without one starter in Raphinha, who was given a straight red card and is suspended for Sunday — and could even be banned for a second game.
The Brazilian is the replacement for the departing Ousmane Dembélé, so his absence creates a big opportunity for another player to make his mark and enter Xavi Hernández’s plans as a possible regular starter. And there is an early favorite to be the coach’s choice for this weekend: Ez Abde, according to Mundo Deportivo.
The young Moroccan came on at halftime for Andreas Christensen in an attempt by Xavi to add a different dynamic to the attack even with 10 men, and while he had an inconsistent 45 minutes Abde showed enough to warrant more playing time in the games ahead.
More importantly, according to the report, Abde is the closest player of those available to Raphinha’s skill set. Even though he is more comfortable on the left Abde has the necessary pace and dribbling skills to win individual battles on the right wing, and is the closest thing to a “pure winger” in Xavi’s mind without Raphinha.
Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati and Lamine Yamal are all in contention as well, but Xavi sees Ferran as more of a striker while in his opinion Ansu and Yamal are more associative players who prefer to come inside and create instead of trying to beat their opponents out wide, a quality that is very important in the coach’s system.
Xavi is likely to stick with his preferred four-midfielder lineup against Cádiz, leaving only one attacking spot alongside Robert Lewandowski. And for now, with five days and plenty of training sessions still to go, that spot seems to belong to Ez Abde.
Who do you want to see replace Raphinha on Sunday, Barça fans?