Barcelona have no time to rest and must pick up the pieces after the heartbreak in Munich as they travel to Pamplona for what is always a tough away game against Osasuna.
Barça suffered their first loss under Xavi Hernández in La Liga against Real Betis last week and must return to winning ways to stay in the hunt for European places, but Osasuna never make it easy in their stadium.
Xavi will be missing seven key players and his team selection will be difficult for this one. Let’s see how Barça could line up on Sunday afternoon.
Barça’s defense suffered against Bayern and the injury to Jordi Alba was another blow to what has been a really problematic area of the squad. Óscar Mingueza came on for Alba but did little to earn a starting spot against Osasuna, and with Xavi yet to use Alejandro Balde it is hard to see the youngster getting a chance from the beginning in this one.
Xavi could once again go with Ronald Araujo at right-back and have Eric García alongside Gerard Piqué in the center of defense, with Clément Lenglet dropping to the bench. Sergiño Dest hasn’t been great but is the only true full-back available at the moment, and he will probably start on the left in Pamplona.
It was a surprise to see Nico González on the bench against Bayern and his intensity was clearly missed against the German champions, so it’s only natural that the young midfielder returns to the starting lineup against Osasuna. Sergio Busquets and Frenkie De Jong will most likely start once again, although the two badly need a rest right now.
Philippe Coutinho and Riqui Puig look more and more unlikely to have any real chances under Xavi, so we will probably see the same midfield combination in most of the games until Pedri returns.
The injury to Memphis Depay was the latest blow to a Barça attack that has suffered with medical issues all season, and Xavi may be forced to start Luuk De Jong for the first time despite the Dutch clearly not being in the manager’s plans. There are simply no other central striking options, and Xavi doesn’t seem to enjoy using a false nine in the early days of his coaching career.
If he does go with a false nine, however, there are several options: Philippe Coutinho, Yusuf Demir, Gavi or maybe even Ousmane Dembélé in a central position. Dembélé and Gavi will definitely start on Sunday, most likely on the wing with De Jong in the middle, but there is a chance we see a Dembélé-Gavi-Coutinho front three for the first time this season.
Possible XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, García, Dest; Nico, Busquets, F. De Jong; Dembélé, L. De Jong, Gavi
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