Problems for Xavi with only three first-team defenders available against Unionistas

Date:

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, SPAIN - JANUARY 4: Coach Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona consoles Joao Cancelo of FC Barcelona who leaves the pitch with an injury during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Las Palmas v FC Barcelona at the Gran Canaria Stadium on January 4, 2024 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Spain
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

FC Barcelona are set to face Unionistas de Salamanca in their next match in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, and despite the superiority of the Catalan club’s squad over their opponents, at least on paper, Xavi will be going into this match with several handicaps.

Firstly, the team is still reeling from the 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid they suffered in the Spanish Super Cup final last Sunday. The players are definitely demoralised with such a defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals, and Xavi will have some work to do to bring their spirits up in this match.

Another problem that Xavi will be facing in this match will be the low number of defenders available, as has been noted by SPORT. Four of the first-team defenders, Joao Cancelo, Inigo Martinez, Marcos Alonso, and Ronald Araujo will be unavailable for this match, the former three with injuries and Araujo with a suspension.

In such a context, Xavi will have to play one of the reserve team players if he wants to go with a four-man defense. The most natural solution for Xavi will be to play Hector Fort in the right back position, keeping Kounde and Christensen in the center and Balde on the left flank.

Fort made his first-team debut against Royal Antwerp while playing on the right flank, but Xavi played him on the left against Barbastro in the last Copa tie. However, he has never played as a left-back in any of his youth teams, and is most suited to play on the right.

Another solution for Xavi could be to shift Kounde to the right flank, and play Pau Cubarsi with Christensen in the centre. Similarly, Sergi Roberto can also play at the right-back position, but his performances in the midfield warrant a continued presence in this area of the pitch.

Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari has been covering Spanish football as a writer for Barca News Network for the last one and a half year and as an amateur football fanatic for more than 10 years. He mainly covers on and off-field happenings taking place at Barcelona including transfer news, administrative changes, match reports, and any other eventful news coming out of the club.

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