Xavi to put his faith in the veterans for Barcelona vs Napoli


Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi attends a training session at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on January 30, 2024.
Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Up next for FC Barcelona is a clash in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. The Blaugranes already know the uncertainty of their fate in La Liga, and their dismissal from other competitions. However, the Champions League remains one competition where Barcelona are the masters of their own fate.

Xavi’s team will thus put a lot of emphasis and focus towards the clash against Napoli up next. The trip to Italy will see them take on one of the Serie A’s most decorated sides, who remain dangerous despite their rather disappointing season so far.

To ensure that Barcelona remain competitive at the highest level and are able to play without the risk of making too many mistakes, Xavi Hernandez will likely go ahead with making certain changes to the side he fields against the team from Naples.

As per Mundo Deportivo, Xavi will likely rely less and less on the youngsters for this clash. While he will maintain his faith in the indisputable gems, others who have performed well may have to start from the bench this time around.

Pau Cubarsi, aged 17, is possibly going to be one of the youngsters sacrificed. In his stead, Xavi could opt to use Inigo Martinez. The 32-year-old Spaniard undoubtedly brings in a lot more experience and knowledge of the game than Cubarsi, and his involvement could thus lead to less mishaps.

Another name who will enter the lineup once again after being rested against Celta Vigo is Ilkay Gundogan. A proper veteran of the Champions League, having won it with Manchester City only last year, his inclusion will be crucial for Barcelona against a resilient Napoli team.

Moreover, in attack, it seems that Vitor Roque will likely start from the bench as well this time. While Lamine Yamal could remain a starter due to his great impact for this Barcelona team, Roque could end up being replaced by Raphinha.

The 27-year-old Brazilian winger is much more experienced than the new arrival from Athletico Paranaense, and could thus end up being Xavi’s pick for this crucial game.

Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun is a life-long fan of FC Barcelona and an avid enjoyer of all things Blaugrana. Having fallen in love with the club for the way they defined football for him, he now spends his time watching games, analyzing the happenings in them, and digesting any and everything related to his beloved Catalan club. He also writes as an author for Barca News Network hoping to deliver the latest updates to his fellow ‘culés’.

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