FC Barcelona will extend their open arms to welcome Catalan challengers Girona to the Spotify Camp Nou for the 28th match of their league campaign. The Blaugrana outfit would do well to come out with all 3 points in a game where they are indefinite favorites and would go 15 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid should they emerge as the victors in this Catalan derby.
This is how Xavi Hernandez’s team is expected to lineup against Girona:
Goalkeeper: Marc Andre ter Stegen
In what could be a historical season for the German international, the guardian between the sticks for Barcelona will hope to continue his fine form in La Liga and come out of this Catalan derby with yet another clean sheet towards his name and his objective of claiming his first Zamora.
Right-back: Jules Kounde
After what was arguably a forgettable performance by the Frenchman against Real Madrid, he will be hoping to bounce back and reassert himself on that right-hand side of the defense to ensure that Girona have a hard time bypassing that side of Barcelona’s structure.
Centre-back: Ronald Araujo
The Uruguayan has been key to the Catalan outfit’s defensive rigidity this entire season and will continue to be so should he remain fit and in form. His presence in this game will provide Barcelona with some much-appreciated insurance at the back.
Centre-back: Eric Garcia
With Andreas Christensen still out injured, it seems likely that either of Marcos Alonso or Eric Garcia will start as the partners to Araujo in the heart of the defense.
Left-back: Alejandro Balde
Still a bit immature in terms of experience and time as a professional, but it still does not take away from the absolutely monstrous raw talent that this young fullback possesses. His electric pace and tendency to cut through opposition defenses give him all the necessary tools to be hailed as a world-beater sometime in the future of his career.
CDM: Sergio Busquets
The veteran of Barcelona will be expected to be tasked with commandeering the Catalan ship and stabilizing it when the need arises. His positioning, awareness, and elite passing range make him a massively important piece of Xavi’s tactical setup.
CM: Sergi Roberto
The veteran midfielder has performed well in recent outings in the middle of the park and is expected to start alongside Gavi to provide much-needed stability and control in the Blaugrana midfield.
Tenacious and hungry for more, Gavi will be heading into every remaining game with a possible chip on his shoulder given the entire drama with La Liga over his registration. His point of proving himself as worthy of that number 6, now on hold for him, will be a joy to watch and an interesting tale to follow.
At times the only true creator Barcelona possess in the attacking trident, his daring nature and at times audacious attempts, albeit inconsistent, all typically manage to pose a threat to the opposition in one way or the other. In Dembele’s absence, the Brazilian winger truly stepped up to the task at hand.
Centre-forward: Robert Lewandowski
The Polish striker is slowly but surely gaining his finishing touch back as well as his inclination to be a predator in front of goal. Admitting himself that he felt a slump in his performances following the World Cup in Qatar, he now seems on a mission to claim the Pichichi trophy in his very first La Liga season.
Left-winger: Ansu Fati
With resurging confidence, as seen in both his goal against Elche and his cameo against Real Madrid, the youngster could just be given another shot at an evolving redemption arc for the young Spaniard. The number 10 still sustains huge expectations of him, and it is up to him to adhere to them and pay back to the fans that continue to support him.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Balde, Eric, Araujo, Kounde
Midfielders: Gavi, Busquets, Roberto
Forwards: Fati, Lewandowski, Raphinha