Barcelona travel to the home of rock-bottom Cadiz in the Spanish top flight on Saturday evening.
The Catalan giants were one of only two sides – along with Valencia – that didn’t score a single goal against Cadiz last season. Xavi Hernandez, the club’s current manager, actually featured on the pitch the last time Barcelona earned a victory against the Andalusia outfit.
Here’s the XI Xavi may deploy to find the net – and three points – against Cadiz.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – The German custodian has saved an impressive 92% of the La Liga shots that have flown his way this term (12/13).
RB: Jules Kounde – Described as “just a boy that can go back and forth” by his former Sevilla centre-back partner Diego Carlos, Kounde assisted two goals on his return to the Sanchez-Pizjuan last weekend.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 14 minutes into his Barcelona debut, Araujo received his marching orders. He hasn’t been shown a red card since.
CB: Andreas Christensen – The Dane partnered Eric Garcia during preseason and the opening couple of matches of the current campaign but may replace his Spanish colleague this weekend.
LB: Alejandro Balde – The academy product has appeared to have usurped the stalwart Jordi Alba this season, starting the last three league games on the spin while his senior teammate watches from the unfamiliar position of the bench.
CM: Gavi – Still has a B-team licence, which explains his number 30. In January, after some more financial jiggery-pokery, Gavi is scheduled to get Xavi’s number six.
CM: Sergio Busquets – His father Carles was largely Barcelona’s second-choice goalkeeper in the 1990s but missed a spell warming the bench after – supposedly – burning his hands trying to catch an iron.
CM: Pedri – Barcelona’s Canary Islands representative has shown few signs of letting his rapid rise get to his head. In fact, quite the reverse. In 2020, Pedri was spotted carrying his personal effects into the stadium inside a plastic bag rather than the designer backpacks his teammates favour.
RW: Raphinha – The Brazilian had already won over one of his new teammates years before joining Barcelona by impressing at Rennes, the club Ousmane Dembele continues to follow.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – The swiftness of Lewandowski‘s adaptation to life in Barcelona isn’t outrageously surprising for a player so detail-orientated that he sleeps on his left side to protect his right leg.
LW: Ousmane Dembele – Xavi described Dembele’s dribbling ability as “something that I have seen in very few footballers in my career.” For someone that has played with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Ronaldinho – among others – it’s lofty praise indeed.