The world is still buzzing after Barcelona and Manchester United put on a show in their Europa League clash on Thursday night, but before they meet again at Old Trafford next week there is some La Liga business for Barça to handle as they welcome relegation-threatened Cádiz to the Spotify Camp Nou on Sunday night.
Barça remain unbeaten in 2023 after the incredible 2-2 draw against the Red Devils, but it was a costly night as the Blaugrana have lost midfielder Pedri for the next month due to a hamstring injury. The schedule is busy and filled with massive games, and Xavi Hernández will have to figure out a way to still win games without his most creative player.
But the Catalans should still be able to beat Cádiz without Pedri, though it won’t be an easy task against a team that has been the Blaugrana’s bogey side over the last few years and have begun to turn their season around with three wins and just two losses so far this year. Here’s how we think Barça will line up on Sunday.
The injuries are beginning to mount at the worst time after a very healthy January, and to make matters worse Barça will be without the suspended Ronald Araujo this Sunday which makes it four starters unavailable for this weekend.
Sergi Roberto is the most likely replacement for Araujo at right-back, though Jules Kounde could return to that position with either Eric García or Marcos Alonso playing in the middle with Andreas Christensen, who is expected back after playing just 25 minutes against United. Alejandro Balde should also return on the left.
Pedri is out and Sergio Busquets is unlikely to feature from the start, though the captain could be back in the squad if he’s given the medical green light to return from his ankle injury. Gavi is suspended for the trip to Old Trafford, so the youngster is a lock to start in this one.
Sergi Roberto played in midfield on Thursday and could remain there if Xavi goes with a more defensive backline, but the most likely option is Roberto at right-back with Franck Kessie and Frenkie De Jong alongside Gavi in the middle.
Raphinha was Barça’s best player against United and was understandably frustrated with his late substitution on Thursday, and the Brazilian has privately and publicly apologized for his reaction (even though he did nothing wrong, as Xavi himself admitted). Raphinha is starting to really find his place on the team and has done his best to replace Ousmane Dembélé, and he’ll remain a fixture of the side until the Frenchman’s return.
Robert Lewandowski will lead the line again, and with Xavi all but forced to return to a classic 4-3-3 with the injuries in midfield we will most likely see the return of Ansu Fati to the starting XI after his excellent substitute cameo against United.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Kessie, De Jong, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Fati (4-3-3)
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Cádiz? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!