Barcelona welcome Real Betis to Camp Nou on Saturday looking for their third straight win in La Liga with Xavi Hernández at the helm.
But it promises to be a very tough test against a Betis side in great form to start the season, currently four points above Barça in the table and already qualified for knockout stages in the Europa League.
Xavi has some important decisions to make. Despite having a full week of rest and training, the biggest game of the season away to Bayern Munich in the Champions League takes place just four days after this one which may or may not mean some rotation to the squad.
Let’s see how Barça could line up on Saturday.
Sergiño Dest is fit again and has had a full week of training under his belt, so it would be a surprise to not see the American starting this one at right-back. Jordi Alba could be rested for Munich so we may see Dest on the left as well, with Óscar Mingueza possibly on the right if Alba does sit this one out.
The middle of the backline has seen the most changes under Xavi so far whether he’s played a back three or a back four, and we could see another alteration if Gerard Piqué is rested. If that happens, Ronald Araujo and Eric García would be favorites to start together, though García might find himself on the bench after struggling against Villarreal which opens the door for Clément Lenglet to make his second start under Xavi.
Sergio Busquets should absolutely be given the day off after playing non-stop for both Barça and Spain over the last couple of months, but it seems as though the captain is a guaranteed starter under Xavi in these early days.
If Busquets does start, we might not see any changes in midfield with both Frenkie De Jong and Nico González expected to play ahead of him. With Sergi Roberto possibly out for the rest of the season, Riqui Puig is the other midfield alternative. He is yet to start under Xavi and might be the surprise inclusion on Saturday, although that seems unlikely at this point.
After coming on as a substitute in the last two games, it could finally be the time to see Ousmane Dembélé make his first start for Xavi. The Frenchman looked good in his two cameos last week and had a full week of training to prepare for a bigger role on Saturday, although Xavi may decide to start him in Munich instead.
If Dembélé does not play from the start, Ez Abde would be the choice to play on the wing with Memphis Depay and Gavi alongside one of them. There is a chance Gavi starts in midfield in case Busquets is rested, which would leave the two wing spots open for any combination between Dembélé, Ez Abde, Philippe Coutinho, Ilias Akhomach and Yusuf Demir.
Possible XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Piqué, Alba; Nico, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Memphis, Gavi
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