FC Barcelona are set to take on Alaves in their next La Liga match on Sunday. The Catalans will be looking for a statement win in this match in order to reverse the poor form they have been showing for the last few matches.
One of the keys for Barcelona to win this match would be to keep the forwards of Alaves in check, and Luis Rioja is one forward who will have to be controlled by Xavi’s defense to keep their goal unthreatened.
Rioja wants Pedri not to play
Meanwhile, Rioja himself also has a clear idea of which Barcelona player his team will have to focus on to ensure minimal damage.
As Mundo Deportivo has reported, the Alaves player appeared in an interview in which, among other things, he talked about the match with Barcelona, and the one player he prefers to be removed from the Barcelona lineup for this match.
Rioja had no doubts about his choice, as he picked Pedri to be that player, as he commented: “Pedri. It’s true that he’s coming back from an injury, but I think he’s a special player.”
Pedri returning from an injury layoff
Pedri featured for Barcelona last week after being unavailable for more than a month. His presence will be key for Xavi not only to unlock defenses on the pitch but also allow him to rest other players like Ilkay Gundogan, who have been playing non-stop due to the absence of the Canary Islander and Frenkie de Jong.
Thus, despite Rioja’s wishes, Pedri is highly likely to appear in the upcoming match, and Barcelona fans will be hoping he can contribute to getting Barcelona back on the right track before the international break.
As he has shown in the last two seasons, Pedri can be instrumental in unlocking defenses, and helping forwards like Lewandowski, Felix, and Raphinha threaten the opposition goal more often.