Barcelona return to action following their shocking Europa League exit with a La Liga home game against Cádiz at Camp Nou on a rare Monday night match for the Catalans.
Thursday’s defeat was painful and made it clear there’s still lots to work on for Xavi Hernández and his men, but they can take comfort in the league form with seven straight wins and a firm grip on second place as they look to clinch a place in the Champions League next season.
Barça face a Cádiz side desperate for a result in their fight against relegation, and this promises to be a tough one for the Blaugrana. Let’s see how Barça could line up on Monday.
The schedule stays busy for Barça with three tough La Liga games this week: Cádiz on Monday, Real Sociedad away on Thursday and Rayo Vallecano at home next Sunday. Xavi will need to be smart with his rotations, even though there is not much depth at the moment.
In defense there is the return of Dani Alves, who will now be available for every remaining game as Barça are out of Europe. The Brazilian is a lock to start on Monday and could be either the right-back or the left-back if Xavi decides to rest Jordi Alba, who has played a lot of football recently. If Alba does get the night off, Sergiño Dest will come in at the other full-back spot, with Xavi deciding which of his two right-backs will go on the left for this one.
There is also the issue of Ronald Araujo’s one-game ban for yellow card accumulation, which leaves a big question mark in defense with Gerard Piqué still not cleared to return from a groin injury. If Piqué is ready he will start alongside Eric García in the middle, but if Piqué can’t go then Clément Lenglet will return to the heart of the defense.
Barça’s midfield suffered a major blow for the rest of the season as Pedri will not return in this campaign because of a hamstring injury suffered against Frankfurt. Thankfully for Xavi the midfield area is the one part of the team that can deal with a major injury thanks to the depth of talent at the position.
Frenkie De Jong was ill and couldn’t be himself against Frankfurt, but he should be back to normal and starting in Pedri’s place alongside Sergio Busquets and Gavi. Nico González becomes a real option again, and Riqui Puig might even get some minutes although not as a starter in this one.
Barça’s attack was largely ineffective against Frankfurt and the three forward starters could use a rest on Monday. It is hard to see Xavi rotating his entire front three out, however, so realistically only one or two spots are open.
Adama Traoré hasn’t started in a while in the league, and this is the perfect opportunity to bring him back and give Ousmane Dembélé at least 45-60 minutes of rest. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could also use a little breather, and Memphis Depay is the guy ready to fill his spot. Ferran Torres most likely stays in the team no matter what, but Ansu Fati could return on Monday to play a few minutes and slowly start to challenge Ferran for the left wing spot.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Eric, Lenglet, Dest; F. De Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Adama, Memphis, Ferran (4-3-3)
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