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Xavi Tinkers With Lineup For Second

Xavi Hernandez will make one major change to his lineup when FC Barcelona face Girona away from home in La Liga on Saturday.

With bitter rivals Real Madrid 11 points clear at the summit, and possibly making that 14 if they beat Cadiz earlier in the afternoon, this is essentially a battle for second place.

Sealing the berth not only confirms automatic qualification for second place, but also passage to the lucrative Spanish Super Cup at the turn of 2025.

Speaking at his prematch press conference on Friday, however, Xavi refused to accept that the showdown in Montilivi is a “final”.

“It’s not a final, but we approach it as something very, very important,” the manager said.

“Whatever happens won’t be definitive, but it’s very important for us. It got away from us the first time round,” he added, in reference to a 4-2 loss to Girona at the Montjuic Stadium back in December which was their first triumph over the Blaugrana.

Xavi was complimentary in saying that it is “a source of pride for Catalan football that Girona is in the Champions League competing with the best.”

“It’s fantastic the level they’ve shown,” he further commented.

That said, he couldn’t guarantee which of Michel’s men would be a starter in his first XI.

“I don’t know if they would be starters here. The context changes completely in a big team like Barca,” Xavi pointed out.

“There are players who perform at a high level at Girona, with less pressure. It’s not the same, it’s obvious, we’ve seen it in different players. I don’t know what to tell you. They have high-level players, they’ve shown that.”

Still Xavi will pay Girona the respect it deserves by going all out with his best possible line up, injuries considered.

This consists of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal with a backline of Joao Cancelo, Pau Cubarsi, Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde.

In midfield, there is a major change with Pedri replacing Fermin Lopez. The Spain international joins Ilkay Gundogan, as center back Andreas Christensen provides pivot support.

Up top, it is the same trident as of late in Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Lamine Yamal.

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

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