Cubarsi, Yamal start in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could line up against Athletic Club

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 21: Lamine Yamal of FC Barcelona looks on during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Real Betis and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on January 21, 2024 in Seville, Spain.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

After their last victory over Real Betis, FC Barcelona now move towards their next objective. Athletic Club, managed by former Barça coach Ernesto Valverde, are next in line in the Copa Del Ray. With Barcelona still hoping to go far in the competition, this is their next hurdle.

In the quarter-finals, both teams will be looking to make their own mark. Set to take place in the San Mames, Athletic will definitely not want to go easy in front of their own home supporters. However, Barcelona would do well not to get intimidated by an eager crowd against them.

Knowing what is at stake, Xavi will likely field a strong eleven to take on their opponents. Here is how the Barcelona coach could line up his team against Athletic Club.

Expected Line-up:

Goalkeeper: Inaki Pena

As Marc-Andre Ter Stegen gets closer and closer to his imminent return, the days for Inaki Pena as an undisputed starter are numbered. However, until that fateful day arrives, he will need to continue protecting the Barcelona goal to the best of his abilities.

Left-back: Alejandro Balde

The Spaniard is still not consistently at his best level, but he seems to be regaining sensations. After some frustrating displays over the last few months, recent games have seen Balde show glimpses of his best level again. Xavi will hope that he can produce those levels once more against Athletic Club.

Centre-back: Pau Cubarsi

After a more than convincing display against Real Betis, it seems wrong not to trust the youngster again. While Andreas Christensen is back in the squad, and could very easily be in the starting eleven, it just feels wrong not to continue putting faith in Cubarsi after his last display.

Centre-back: Ronald Araujo

The Uruguayan defender continues to be a great asset for Barcelona at the back. However, if there is one complaint towards Ronald Araujo, it is his lack of communication with Inaki Pena. Apart from that, he remains a central piece of this team.

Right-back: Jules Kounde

Jules Kounde performed quite well as a right-back last time out against Real Betis. Even though Joao Cancelo is now available and has received the medical green light, it remains to be seen if the Portuguese star is ready to start for Barcelona in this game.

CDM: Frenkie De Jong

Easily one of Barça’s most reliable and consistent ball carriers, Frenkie De Jong remains unmatched at what he does best. His creativity and magic will both be needed to prevail against a very strong Athletic Club side.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan

Another composed figure in midfield, Gundogan’s quality and experience are hard to replace. With his habit of knowing when to pop up and deliver in tense moments, it can never be ruled out that the German provides Barcelona with stability during the game.

CM: Pedri

The Spaniard continues to impress everyone who comes across the young magician. Xavi knows how important the youngster is to his plans, and hopes to now keep him fit enough to aid Barcelona at whatever level possible.

Left-winger: Ferran Torres

The man of the moment for Barcelona, Ferran Torres truly exploded against Real Betis. With three goals and an assist to his name, the Spanish forward is truly in the form of his life. He surely deserves a spot in Xavi’s starting eleven for the game against Athletic Club.

Centre-forward: Robert Lewandowski

In terms of form, the Pole is on the entirely opposite spectrum to the Spaniard. While it becomes harder and harder to include him in the starting eleven, it seems that his physical prowess could be useful against a team like Athletic Club.

Right-winger: Lamine Yamal

Another star of the game against Betis, 16-year-old Lamine Yamal continues to shine beyond belief. An assist and many more wonderful moments in the last game warrant him another start against Athletic Club.

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