“Barcelona’s Rising Star Puts Xavi Hernandez in a Tight Spot Before El Clasico Showdown”

Joe Lee

Barcelona made things more difficult than they would have wanted against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday evening, winning 2-1 after the game appeared to be over at 2-0. However, one remarkable performance for the Blaugrana has left Xavi with a difficult decision ahead of El Clasico.

Fermin Lopez was in inspired form against Shakhtar, scoring a stunning goal in off the post, hitting the post with two more shots, and powering a header home that was ruled narrowly offside. All in all, he was their biggest goal threat.

In terms of passing, he had an 88% success rate, shot 6 times, more than anyone else, and only Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde were the only players who moved faster than his 32.7km/h, as per MD.

With Frenkie de Jong looking likely to miss the match, and Pedri and Sergi Roberto definitely ruled out, it leaves four midfielders for Xavi to choose from in Ilkay Gundogan, Gavi, Oriol Romeu and Lopez. The first two are guaranteed to start, but with Romeu’s performance slowing in recent weeks, Lopez has done as much as he can to cast doubt in his coach’s mind as to whether he should be the third.

Equally up front, Ferran Torres and Joao Felix will start, with Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha also likely to miss the match. But Lopez could be given the nod ahead of Lamine Yamal, who played 90 minutes against Shakhtar. Lopez already knows what it’s like to score against Los Blancos, having done so in preseason in the USA.

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