Following their setback to Real Madrid last Saturday, Barcelona will be looking to respond strongly and return to winning ways when they face Real Sociedad away at Anoeta this weekend.
The journey to the Basque club will not be easy, but following the slip-up in the first El Clasico of the season, Barça will be even more motivated to cut the gap to the top.
Furthermore, Xavi Hernandez is anticipated to recover both Pedri and Frenkie de Jong in time for the encounter, leaving Sergi Roberto as the Blaugrana’s lone injury absence. Xavi has already decided on his starting lineup.
According to Javi Miguel of AS, Barcelona manager Xavi has already decided on his starting lineup for Saturday’s match against Real Sociedad.
The Barcelona manager understands that his squad cannot afford to lose points, since they have already dropped to fourth place in the La Liga table as a result of Girona and Atletico Madrid’s performances.
As a result, Xavi regards the game against Real Sociedad as a “final,” and he will not make many substitutions, instead naming his strongest starting team.
The plan is to take advantage of whatever exhaustion Imanol Alguacil’s squad may have after their midweek cup match by putting the best players on the pitch from the outset.
As such, Xavi plans to start with the centre-back pairing of Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen, with the former moving back to his natural position after playing at right-back against Real Madrid.
Joao Cancelo and Alejandro Balde ought to occupy the full-back positions with Marc-Andre ter Stegen lining up in goal.
No changes are expected in midfield with Xavi likely to stick with Ilkay Gundogan, Gavi, and Fermin Lopez from the start, meaning Oriol Romeu is left on the bench again.
In attack, Robert Lewandowski is expected to start as the centre-forward flanked by Ferran Torres and Joao Felix.
The report further adds that even though Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are likely to make the squad list, they will only feature as substitutes.
This goes in line with reports suggesting that the Dutchman will be playing a maximum of 20 minutes against Sociedad.
The likes of Raphinha, Jules Kounde, and Lamine Yamal are also expected to feature off the bench.