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How will Barcelona line up against Benfica?

It’s a big game in the Champions League

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona take on Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday in what is a crucial game in Group E which is likely to decide who progresses to the last 16 with Bayern Munich.

Benfica ran out 3-0 winners against Barcelona in the return but the Catalan giants have turned things around and will go through with a win.

It’s Xavi’s first game managing Barca in the Champions League and he has plenty of injuries to contend with so let’s see who could feature.

Defense

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Xavi’s only real injury problem in defense is at right-back where Sergino Dest remains a doubt with a back injury. The USMNT star has returned to training but it’s not clear yet if he will be considered fit enough to start.

Oscar Mingueza featured at right-back against Espanyol but was far from impressive so could be replaced by Sergi Roberto if Dest does not make it back in time.

Elsewhere, Xavi’s only other big decision is who to play in central defense.

Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia got the nod against Espanyol, and kept a clean sheet, but Ronald Araujo is pushing for a place.

Midfield

FBL-SPA-LIGA-BARCELONA-ESPANYOL Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Xavi hardly lacks for options in midfield but remains without Pedri who is expected to miss another month after suffering a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.

It’s difficult to see Xavi doing much rotation in midfield for a game of this importance which means he could stick with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, and Nico Gonzalez.

Busquets and Nico both picked up knocks late on against Espanyol but it’s thought they will be OK to feature on Tuesday. If not, Riqui Puig will be hoping for a chance to impress in the starting XI.

Attack

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona’s attack remains decimated by injuries, while youngsters Ilias Akhomach (suspension) and Ez Abde (not registered) also can’t play which is a further blow to the new boss.

The situation means we could see Gavi continue in a more advanced position along with Memphis Depay who bagged the winner against Espanyol at the weekend.

Unless Xavi tweaks his formation that just leaves one spot up for grabs which means one of Yusuf Demir, Philippe Coutinho, and Luuk de Jong could feature.

Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Eric, Alba; Busquets, Frenkie, Nico; Demir, Memphis, Gavi.

How do you think Barcelona should line up against Benfica? Let us know your thoughts predictions and teams in the comments below!