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How will Barcelona line up against FC Porto in a monster Champions League match?

Barça welcome the second best team in the group with their fate in Europe on the line

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

After a disappointing draw away to Rayo Vallecano in their first game after the international break, Barcelona move on to a monster European clash as they welcome FC Porto the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium for their penultimate Champions League group stage match.

The disastrous loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in their last European game complicated Barça’s life in a group they were supposed to cruise through, and now the Catalans could find themselves in real trouble if things go south again against the second best team in Group H.

Barça will mathematically qualify for the knockout stages with a win and a draw could be enough if Shakhtar don’t beat Royal Antwerp in the other game in the group, but a defeat would leave things wide open ahead of the final matchday.

Porto gave Barça all they could handle two months ago and will come into this one confident they can do it again and cause the upset, and we should be in for 90 minutes of pure tension in the Catalan capital. Here’s how we think Xavi Hernández will line up his troops for Tuesday’s battle.


Joao Cancelo of Barcelona seen in action during the LaLiga... Photo by Guillermo Martinez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As of this writing there is still no confirmation of Marc-André ter Stegen’s status after the goalkeeper missed the trip to Rayo with a back injury, but the latest reports suggest there is optimism that the German will be fit enough to start in this one. Iñaki Peña was competent against Rayo but Ter Stegen is obviously a better player, and his presence will be crucial against a fast and dangerous Porto attack.

If Ter Stegen does indeed start, Xavi is expected to opt for a more attacking back four. The Jules Kounde-Ronald Araujo duo made some giant plays in Barça’s win away to Porto earlier this season, and they are expected to start together again in the middle of the backline, with João Cancelo and Alejandro Balde at full-back and both Andreas Christensen and Iñigo Martínez on the bench.

Xavi could come up with a surprise and play three center-backs with Cancelo further forward as a right winger, but we don’t expect it in a home game that Barça desperately need to win.


Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Frenkie de Jong is back and looking like Frenkie after an amazing performance against Rayo in his first game after missing two months with an ankle injury. The Dutchman will start again, and his ability to control the pace in midfield is paramount against a Porto side that loves to press.

De Jong and Oriol Romeu played well together as a double pivot against Rayo, but we are expecting Xavi to go with an all-star midfield for this one with Pedri and Ilkay Gündogan in front of Frenkie in a more attacking and creative central setup.


Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Xavi opted against starting both Araujo and Raphinha on Saturday as both returned late from international duty in South America, and having them at 100% for this one was certainly the main reason for the coach’s decision.

Raphinha hasn’t set the world on fire since returning from injury but had a very impactful cameo as a substitute against Rayo, and he’s expected to start this one on the right wing. Robert Lewandowski will lead the line, and João Félix should get another chance on the left looking to regain the form shown in his first six weeks as a Blaugrana.

Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Araujo, Kounde, Balde; Pedri, De Jong, Gündogan; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Félix (4-3-3)

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

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