Selection puzzle: Defensive options of Barcelona leave Xavi in a quandary

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona inspects the pitch prior to the LaLiga EA Sports match between Rayo Vallecano and FC Barcelona at Estadio de Vallecas on November 25, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

FC Barcelona secured a crucial victory against Porto in the midweek UEFA Champions League fixture. One of the most important factors of this victory was the defensive line for the Catalans.

Jules Kounde and Inigo Martinez were the center-back pairing, with the Captain Ronald Araujo on the right flank and Joao Cancelo starting ahead of Alejandro Balde on the left – where the Portuguese has been the most successful while he played for his previous teams.

Jules Kounde was caught out a few times by the Porto forwards with their precise deliveries to the forwards but an experiment to start this defensive line eventually did pay off and further damage wasn’t done.

The risk to start Cancelo on the left paid off, as he had his best game in a Barcelona shirt by equalizing and then providing Joao Felix an assist for the second goal.

Furthermore, even defensively, the Portuguese had a solid game. Both the Joaos ended up being the men to ensure a victory for La Blaugrana.

As reported by Mundo Deportivo, Cancelo’s performances on the left flank have added some fuel to the competition with Balde, who has blown hot and cold this season – evidently as the Spanish full-back wasn’t called up by Spain during the last international break.

But, this may be a good headache for Xavi as he can choose either of Cancelo or Balde for their upcoming games based on form and what the team requires.

After the match ended, speaking on the left flank dilemma, the Portuguese fullback said: “I don’t mind playing on the left, but Balde deserves it too.”

As thin with options they are in the midfield, on the contrary, they are spoiled for choices in the defensive line. Inigo Martinez’s signing has bolstered their defence and at the same time, Andreas Christensen has shown that he deserves more minutes than he played last season.

Moreover, the return of the veteran captain, Sergi Roberto has given Xavi a lot of options to choose from for the upcoming fixtures. However, having too many options may turn out to be problematic, as too many cooks spoil the broth.

For now, Xavi would be satisfied with the performance from this defensive line and La Blaugrana must be thinking about how to contain the in-form duo of Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata in the all-important fixture against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

The Latest

Prolific Barcelona Atletic ace considers himself ready for first-team

FC Barcelona still need to find newer blood from their subsidiary to continue helping them with their objectives. Already this season, the Catalan giants...

Barcelona considering changes in their youth development model

While the likes of Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi are receiving the most plaudits for their performances at FC Barcelona, another youngster who has...

Barcelona set one condition for Italian coach to replace Xavi – report

Beyond just the stars on the field, Barcelona are attentive to prospects for the bench as well. The Catalan club has been put in...

Barcelona face a new goalkeeping dilemma for the summer

As the current season reaches its final phases, the planning for the next season is fully underway at FC Barcelona. The Catalan club is...

Barcelona star’s century helps him top the European midfield charts

At the beginning of this season for Barcelona, the main stars of the transfer window arrived at the end. Both the two Portuguese acquisitions...

19-year-old Barcelona defender attracts English, German, French clubs

The bet of their youngsters continues to prevail for FC Barcelona as their reliance continues to grow. Many talented names from the Barça subsidiary...

16-year-old Barcelona pearl continues to grow and ascend – report

FC Barcelona have seen their fair share of youngsters deal with physical problems as they mature. The footballing world is a competitive and demanding...

Everton unwilling to sell midfielder on terms offered by Barcelona

Guessing from some of the comments that Deco has made in the media, it looks increasingly clear that FC Barcelona are going to put...

Barcelona reignite their interest in 28-year-old French midfielder

Clubs throughout Europe have started planning for the upcoming summer transfer window, and the case is no different for FC Barcelona. However, the Catalans...