FC Barcelona will visit Old Trafford to face off against Manchester United in what is set to be a scintillating set of proceedings in a second leg not many can hope of equaling in terms of both quality and prestige.
Two teams enjoying the absolute graces of form at this moment, a 2-2 draw in their first leg at the Spotify Camp Nou leaves everything still at stake and worth playing for in this hotly anticipated second leg. Here is how Xavi is expected to line up his team:
Barcelona vs Man United: Potential Line-up
Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Stegen
With his usual heroics at display against Cadiz in Barcelona’s last matchup in La Liga Santander, the German International continues his fine form and will be the definitive starter in between the sticks for the Catalans come Thursday.
Right-back: Jules Kounde
With Araujo preoccupied in the middle of the defense, it will be up to Jules Kounde to orchestrate the right-hand flank of said defense. The Frenchman is more than capable enough of providing both defensive and offensive support even when deployed as a fullback.
Centre-back: Ronald Araujo
In what was a telling signal last time around Barcelona faced Manchester United and Marcus Rashford in particular, was that the Englishman is most lethal when coming in from the center. The farther away Ronald Araujo got from him, the easier it was for him to dominate proceedings. This cannot be allowed this time around, the Uruguayan must be centralized to stop any incoming threats.
Centre-back: Andreas Christensen
Rested in the first leg to be replaced by veteran Marcos Alonso, the Danish defender was thoroughly missed in the heart of the defense. His commendable positioning alongside his astute passing range both culminate in allowing Barcelona to dominate proceedings with their play out from the back time and time again.
Left-back: Alejandro Balde
Rested against Manchester United similar to Christensen, the thundering youngster should be given the start this time around. His blistering pace, uncanny natural talent, and young ferocity coupled with his endless engine possess the ability to be able to cause all kinds of havoc for Manchester United
CDM: Sergio Busquets
The Spanish veteran returns from injury and should ideally slot right back into his usual pivot role alongside Frenkie De Jong. His passing and mental awareness were sorely missed within the team’s system, and should he be at his best, he can continue to create openings amidst the United defenses.
CM: Frenkie De Jong
The Dutchman went off to a standing ovation following his performance just recently against Cadiz at the Spotify Camp Nou, the player will undoubtedly be amongst those that start this time around against Manchester United in this massive European clash.
CM: Sergi Roberto
With both Gavi and Pedri out for this second leg, Xavi’s words seem to imply it to be Sergi Roberto who takes their stead. Said to hold attributes that can somewhat fill the gaps that Pedri’s absence leaves behind, the veteran Barcelona academy graduate and captain may well prove to be vital in this upcoming clash.
Barcelona’s main man in the first leg, the Brazilian has been going from strength to strength in 2023. Should he be at his best against United, the winger provides a lot of attacking threat and creative quality with Barca’s potential attacking trident.
Centre-forward: Robert Lewandowski
The Polish talisman continues to lead the scoring charts for FC Barcelona and remains their most potent threat in front of goal. Manchester United will undoubtedly be vary of his potentially lethal scoring abilities and his cunning intellect when near the opposition goal. Utilizing the ex-Bavarian to the maximum will be key to hurting the English side.
Left-winger: Ferran Torres
In arguably what was his best performance yet in a Barcelona jersey, Ferran Torres managed to potentially secure a spot in this upcoming starting eleven courtesy of his rekindled performance against Cadiz. The player has seemingly found new light and new purpose, and should he prove to help the Catalans on this occasion, he will have cemented himself as a useful asset for this young Barcelona side.
Barcelona vs Man United: Expected Lineup
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Balde, Christensen, Araujo, Kounde
Midfielders: Roberto, Busquets, De Jong
Forwards: Torres, Lewandowski, Raphinha