The Blaugrana’s failure to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the second season running was confirmed last week when Inter Milan registered a 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in Italy, with Xavi Hernandez’s side dropping to the Europa League spot before their encounter against Bayern Munich.
A 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich at Nou Camp felt like rubbing salt into the wounds for the Catalan club, meaning they have amassed only four points from their five games.
Barcelona Team News
Xavi Hernandez has decided to give Robert Lewandowski a breather as the Polish striker has a back problem, as confirmed by Barcelona’s official website.
Barcelona remain without the services of Ronald Araujo and Sergi Roberto on Tuesday through injury, whereas Andreas Christensen and Memphis Depay have not been included in the travelling squad despite making progress in their recoveries from ankle and hamstring problems, respectively. Sergio Busquets is suspended.
Eric Garcia misses out after picking up a groin problem in a 1-0 win over Valencia, while Jules Kounde was forced off in the second half with muscular discomfort on Sunday.
Predicted Barcelona Lineup vs Viktoria Plzen (4-3-3)
Xavi is expected to shuffle his pack for Tuesday’s game, with backup goalkeeper Inaki Pena given a rare start in the Barcelona lineup to hand Marc Andre ter-Stegen a much-needed rest. The 23-year-old Spaniard will be raring to repay his manager’s faith by keeping a clean sheet against Viktoria Plzen.
At the back, Gerard Pique and Marcos Alonso are expected to perform their duties in central defence in the Barcelona lineup.
Hector Bellerin should start at right-back in the upcoming European fixture, with Jordi Alba getting the nod over Alejandro Balde at left-back.
A potentially much-changed Barcelona defence will be hoping to keep things tight at the back and secure a clean sheet.
With Busquets suspended, Frenkie de Jong becomes the natural option to operate in the No.6 role in the Barcelona lineup. De Jong’s presence at the base of the midfield should allow Gavi and Franck Kessie—the two 8s—to contribute as much as they can in the final third.
Kessie, in particular, needs to get in rhythm having not played much in October. He must grab the chance with both hands against the Czech outfit.
Pedri will be an option off the bench for Barcelona if Xavi wants to introduce fresh legs in midfield in the second half.
With Lewandowski rested, Ferran Torres is expected to get the green light to lead the Barcelona attack. Torres could be joined by Ansu Fati and Raphinha in a fluid front three in the Barcelona lineup, as the Catalan club aim to beat Viktoria on Tuesday.
Xavi will have offensive weapons in the form of Ousmane Dembele and Pablo Torre to bring off the bench if required.