Player Features

These Two FC Barcelona Players Are No Longer Untouchable

As pointed out by MARCA, FC Barcelona’s last-gasp win over Las Palmas on Thursday demonstrated that two players have lost their “untouchable” status under head coach Xavi Hernandez.

Barca needed a controversial injury time penalty from Ilkay Gundogan to seal a 2-1 win, after once again falling to an early goal in Gran Canaria.

This time the strike came from a former Blaugrana star in Munir on 12 minutes, with the visitors finding a reply on 55 through Ferran Torres.

Had Xavi failed to keep his word, Torres might not have even been on the pitch to level the score.

Following a lackluster display against Almeria at the Montjuic Stadium before Christmas, where he gave his men a rollocking at half time, Xavi warned that there would be consequences for poor displays and that he would follow up on this.

As highlighted by AS, Joao Felix was singled out by Xavi for not producing his best work and was benched in favor of Spain international Torres against Las Palmas.

The second half saw another usual ‘untouchable’ from the starting XI lose his status in Robert Lewandowski.

The 35-year-old had an evening to forget against Pedri’s boyhood club, and Xavi showed him the door on 72 minutes when Felix was introduced.

Rather than throw a strop, the Pole could be seen trying to motivate the troops from the sideline as Barca chased a winner.

He winced when debutant Vitor Roque missed a chance from close quarters, but then attempted to encourage the 18-year-old Brazilian with applause.

The $33 million signing from Athletico Paranaense is seen as the eventual heir to the veteran almost double his age, and when probed on how things will be with ‘Lewa’ from now on, Xavi warned post-match: “From day one, the best players play.”

With a trip to Barbastro in the Copa Del Rey on the horizon this Sunday, Xavi could give the same two men the bench treatment while starting Torres and Roque.

Essentially, however, it is fixtures such as January 11’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Osasuna in Saudi Arabia that will give a greater idea of the direction in which things might be heading.

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