FC Barcelona have enjoyed a strong winning streak since Xavi took charge. The Catalan side has now recorded a massive eleven games without a single loss. In the same period, Barca has managed to easily come out on top against oppositions they easily lost to in the past few months.
Xavi’s appointment seem to have rejuvenated La Blaugrana, invoking a new team spirit fueled by the former Captain’s ball philosophy.
Against Real Madrid, Xavi will not be facing any opponent, but one that is running away with the league. Barca can inflict heavy pains to slow down their La Liga drive. Madrid is also coming from the back of an impressive display against Paris Saint Germaine in the Champions League. Admittedly, both teams are in high form and spirit. What to expect from the match?
1. Barca to Correct Galatasaray Error or Risk Malicious Counters
Against the Turkish based side, FC Barcelona were oftentimes lost in-between passes, wasting precious balls and gifting the opponent easy striking opportunities.
Against a ruthless team like Real Madrid, they will be punished dearly from it due to the vulnerabilities it creates. Again, the fact that this is Madrid’s most preferably way of pressing forward means Barca defenders are mostly exposed and may not be able to contain massive counterattacks from the opposition.
2. Xavi’s Most Preferred Line up
Anyone following the former skipper’s progress so far, would have noticed the most consistent players in Xavi’s line up.
On Thursday, Adama Traore was started in the UEL because it was rumoured Dembele will start in El Clasico. If this is true, we expect Dembele to partner up with Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front. This leaves Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets as the favourite midfield. However, Xavi may be tempted to tweak the midfield a bit by starting Gavi ahead of Sergio Busquets.
In the defense, we expect the usual suspects of Ronald Araujo and Gerard Pique to start in the middle of the park while Jordi Alba will retain his left back position. The coast is clear for Alves to start at right back since Sergino Dest is injured. However, Xavi may opt to play Araujo in the right back role while pairing Eric Garcia with Pique for centreback. Also, Andre Ter Stegen will obviously start the game as the number 1.
3. Fire Balls
Atletico Madrid are currently occupying the third place in La Liga, 3 points above FC Barcelona. Real Madrid is also fifteen (15) points above the Catalan giants who are in 4th position.
It’s obvious Barca have everything to play for, and will seek to win at all costs. It may affect their game play, especially if the players start being selfish with the ball or trying to create magic on their own while circumventing team build up.
Due to this fact, expect both teams to put on a show. The counters will be many, but Barca will expectedly control proceedings if Xavi’s pressing imprints are implemented just like in Barca’s unbeaten run in the last eleven (11) games.
Overall, expect a beautiful game full of fireworks and excellent tactics from both tacticians on the dugout.