In the first of THREE El Clasico’s, spanning over the next month. Tonight Barça will be heading to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semi finals. It’s a massive game, not only for silverware, but also for our confidence.
We’re coming into the game with a blow to confidence, but most concerning is the injury list. As we all know Pedri and Dembele are still out. Although they’re both expected to be fit for the second Clasico, in La Liga. For any team, absences like that make your life even more difficult. And we’re no different. Both of them are key for the system we play and without them, we clearly struggle. Especially in terms of control and creativity.
We’re also going to be without our main source of goals for the next two weeks. As Lewandowski picked up a slight hamstring injury at the start of the week. And again, he is a key part of the way we play. Yes he’s going through a bit of a rough bit of form at the moment, but that shouldn’t take away from how important he is to this team. We haven’t got a replacement for him at all. He’s the only natural number nine we have.
And lastly, Christensen had discomfort in his ankle yesterday and is a doubt to start the game tonight. Injuries to key players like this have a direct impact on the team. And also how we setup to play. You simply can’t play the same way without Pedri, Dembele and Lewandowski. They’re the spine of the team.
Any team in world football with most of their spine removed wouldn’t be the same team. So its really no surprise why we have been struggling recently. Players like Roberto and Alonso can’t just turn into Pedri and Araujo over night. Xavi is going to have to work some of his magic to find a way to compete against a strong Madrid side, without 3 of our key players. So it’s exciting in a way to see how we are going to lineup.
How are we going to set up?
✅| OFFICIAL: The squad list for the game against Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/SMTQGmqRM7— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) March 1, 2023
Usually by now we’d be having a quick look at the opponent. However, considering we’re going to be facing Real Madrid a lot in the next month. And with so many selection dilemmas. We’re just going to skip straight through to how we could possibly lineup.
So firstly, its the question of formation. Since the super cup final, Xavi has found a formation that brings the best out of every single player. The midfield is fluid. The attacking options. Are unpredictable with their movements. And the defence is rock solid. However, that is only with our Gala eleven. And that is another reality check for us. When everyone is fit, and we play our strongest possible team. We are one of the best teams to watch in the world of football. No doubt.
But the second key parts of that team is removed, we start to struggle. And that’s nothing to do with tactics. It’s purely due to the fact that when we want to rotate, apart from Ansu, Raphinha, Ferran and Torre, the rest of the bench options are simply not good enough. As we saw on the weekend. So there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to squad depth.
Because of the injuries we currently have, I don’t think its possible to play the four man midfield until the likes of Pedri, Dembele and Lewandowski get back. That is why I think we should go back to our traditional 4-3-3 to allow us to choose another wide player up front.
In midfield we can go with Busquets, Gavi and Frenkie, and with Gavi we’ll have his intensity which is so important to this team. No other player presses and runs like he does. In attack, we are low on options. One positive piece of news is the return of Ansu. Who is a massive bonus for the team, and is someone who loves playing against Madrid.
Ferran is also looking like he is slowly getting himself back again. And just like Ansu, confidence is key. He scored the only goal in our last league meeting versus Madrid, and will be looking to build on his confidence with a start in El Clasico tonight. Raphinha will most probably start from the right hand side too.
My Starting Lineup:
Araujo- Kounde- Christensen- Balde
Gavi- Busquets- Frenkie
Raphinha- Ferran- Ansu
What’s your starting lineup? Share it with hundreds of Barça fans on Fandango, with their lineup builder feature