Tactical Insights

Xavi Goes All In With Lineup

FC Barcelona will field its strongest lineup against Real Sociedad in La Liga on Monday.

With Real Madrid having already wrapped up a record-extending 36th league title, Barca is battling for second place with its Catalan neighbours Girona, who slipped up by drawing with Alaves at the weekend.

Real Sociedad stands in the way of the Blaugrana making progress in qualifying for the lucrative Spanish Super Cup next year, and at a press conference where he admitted he hasn’t been “up to par” this season, Xavi also confessed that he didn’t know “which La Real we’re going to meet” at the Montjuic Stadium.

“They’re physically strong, they don’t let you make transitions. It depends on where you get the defensive line. Getafe gave us a very brave game and I expect a very brave Real Sociedad,” he said.

“We have another chance to get second place,” Xavi further remarked, at another point of the press conference.

“It’s up to us because of Girona’s draw in Vitoria [against Alaves]. Real Sociedad have an extraordinary level, Imanol does a beastly job, they do things very well.

“They’re a difficult, rocky opponent, I’m sure they will make it difficult for us. The team is keen to show that they can win against a big team after the defeat in Girona.”

For his side’s second to last home game of a campaign to forget, Xavi will field what is his strongest line up injuries considered.

It entails captain Marc-Andre ter Stegen standing between the sticks with a back line of Joao Cancelo, Pau Cubarsi, Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde protecting his goal.

Andreas Christensen is the pivot, and with Frenkie de Jong perhaps never playing for the club again if he is sold thanks to being crocked, Pedri partners Ilkay Gundogan as Fermin Lopez is dropped.

With no starting room for Joao Felix, Raphinha is the left winger as Lamine Yamal mans the right channel on the other side of striker Robert Lewandowski, who might still have a shout for the Pichichi awarded to Spain’s top scorer.

FC Barcelona Starting XI Vs. Real Sociedad: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Cubarsi, Araujo, Kounde; Christensen, Gundogan, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Lamine Yamal

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