In an attempt to turn these ailing fortunes around, Xavi’s team will try everything to make up for the lackluster draw against Rayo last week, and clinch their first victory of this season against Real Sociedad.
With Busquets suspended, Kounde unavailable, and Dest left out of the squad, Xavi is expected to field his team as follows.
Koundé’s inclusion at the heart of defense has been discarded once again as he is still not registered for the match against La Real. Everything is indicating that Eric Garcia and Andreas Christensen will pair up in the center of defense while Ronald Araujo will take the charge at the right back spot.
Jordi Alba’s recent performances have raised concerns among the coaching staff and Xavi is expected to bet on Alejandro Balde. The young Spaniard has impressed the coach and the fanbase with his performances during the pre-season campaign.
Miralem Pjanić is likely to be given the keys alongside Pedri and Frenkie de Jong in the center of Blaugarana midfield. Pjanic’s presence could help compensate for Busquets’s absence in terms of progressive possession with Pedri and Frenkie operating as advanced number 8s. Pjanic was tried in this role in the preseason, but this can be his first real test to show if he is capable to prevail in the Garnet and Blue midfield.
Another idea, a somewhat weird one, can be the inclusion of Frenkie de Jong as the inverted right-back. Ronald Araújo struggled to prevail in the role of an inverted fullback, especially when it comes to helping the attacks. And, to be fair, he cannot really be blamed for that, as he played out of his natural position. In this quasi midfielder role in possession, the Dutchman can start from a deeper position and penetrate the opposition lines with his ability to carry the ball into dangerous areas if needed. In addition, his stability and press-resistance can add further safety in possession, while his defensive focus would be limited to just the side. An attempt worth trying.
Up front, Raphinha, Lewandowski, and Dembélé will be tasked again to feast in the final third with Dembélé and Raphinha particularly rotating incessantly, while Lewandowski imposes himself centrally.
Some decisions are still hanging in the air, but one thing is sure: victory is the aim of the visit to San Sebastián, and no matter how difficult this challenge seems, the expectations have to be placed high. A truly exciting matchup we look forward to, let’s see what happens today evening in the Anoeta.