Xavi’s plan for Sunday’s Clasico against Real Madrid is becoming clearer. The Barcelona coach will still be missing several key players but will have Jules Kounde back. One of the unknowns, though, is how the French defender will be used. There are two scenarios: at right-back or at centre-back.
If Kounde plays on the right, Marcos Alonso will play alongside Eric Garcia in the middle of the back four. Then the doubt is who plays as the left-back: Alejandro Balde or Jordi Alba.
In contrast, if Kounde plays alongside Garcia in the middle, Sergi Roberto would continue at right-back and Alonso would be the pick at left-back.
That is Xavi’s headache as he works out how to best stop Vinicius, who has been marked by Ronald Araujo in recent Clasico encounters.
Gerard Pique’s form after his difficult night against Inter also complicates Xavi’s plans as he was thinking that Pique could partner Garcia in defence. If that idea followed through, Kounde could slot in at right-back.
There are fewer doubts in midfield, where Xavi will bet on Busquets, Gavi and Pedri again. The presence of Vinicius could see Xavi place Gavi on the right side of the midfield as he is more aggressive. Frenkie de Jong is another option but he is likely to remain on the bench once again.
In attack, Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele are fixed, while Xavi is weighing up whether to go with Ansu Fati or Raphinha as the third forward. Raphinha is not comfortable on the left but Dembele also offers his best performance on the right. That could open the door for Ansu on the left. Ferran Torres is also waiting for his chance.