Robert Lewandowski has probably been the most influential and leading man at FC Barcelona in the 2022/23 campaign to date.
He has played practically every game. 1505 minutes out of a total of 1800. That means 84%. 21 goals and seven assists. But Xavi Hernández will have to devise a way to cope without the Pole, who is suspended for three La Liga games.
What alternatives does the man from Terrassa have to replace the two-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year? He has had time and he will have more ahead of him to make his choice. However he will not be able to count on the entire squad until, at least, December 26. Because Koundé and Dembélé are expected back on that date. Perhaps some days later. And especially noteworthy is the Ousmane issue, since he will arrive only shortly before the Catalan derby on Dec 31, after a very intense World Cup and after disconnecting for more than a week. And completing just four training sessions. Here we look at Xavi’s options.
It would be the most logical option. The Brazilian has been a regular starter and the other two have been coming on regularly. All three were in Qatar. Raphinha and Ferran have not shone, but they have played at an acceptable level. The No 10′ has had very little game time. He is still recovering after going through the operating room and trying to find the best version of himself.
Ansu could go into the centre of the attack, with Ferran on the left and Raphinha on the right.
We have seen Memphis very little with Barça this season. More, actually, with the Netherlands, with whom he has gone from less to more in the World Cup. But without having a particularly high level of performance. Inactivity takes its toll. And it was he who decided to continue at Barcelona despite the fact that Xavi told him that he would have little option to play. It may be time to vindicate himself and take a step forward. Less likely, though, is this option, in which the Dutch would act as the ‘9’.
CHANGE OF SYSTEM
In case Xavi does not want to bet on the usual 4-3-3, he has already tried other things. He could use a 4-4-2 with two strikers, who could be Ansu-Ferran, with Raphinha lying on one side and with Gavi or Pedri on the other and Busi in midfield; or a 3-5-2 with Balde and Jordi Alba or Sergi Roberto on the wings and with Raphinha and Ferran or Ansu up top. Multiple choices.