A test of fire awaits Xavi Hernandez as Barcelona has to clash against Bayern Munich to save their Champions League campaign. Xavi took over as Interim manager for Barcelona on 6th Nov and is expected to be in the role till the end of the season.
If he manages to impress he may continue as the permanent manager. However, as of now, it’s all going downhill for Barcelona this season. Ever since Leo Messi’s departure, the club has been in rebuild mode. Ronald Koeman did a decent job of pushing up younger talent.
As a result, Barcelona does have some talented individuals for the future but as of now, their squad looks average. It’s a must-win game for Barcelona against an opponent which has thrashed them before in the same competition.
What will Xavi’s strategy be against a club of Bayern’s stature?
For the second consecutive time, Bayern Munich stands in Barcelona’s way. However, this time around there will be no Lionel Messi to save Barcelona. Considering the team which the Catalonians have the best hope for Barcelona is to go with a defensive lineup.
The priority must be to try and defend their goal and then hit Bayern on the counterattack. There are some young talented players on the team and they do carry a threat on the counter.
Barcelona is expected to line up in a 3-4-2-1 formation. This should add some stability to their defense and midfield along with keeping a sharp edge in their attack. This is a formation that is less used in modern times with the development of the 3-5-2 system.
However, the 3-4-2-1 system could be best suited for Nico Gonzalez and Gavi as they can slot in the 2 along with Memphis as a striker. However, Memphis hasn’t been in the best of forms and yesterday is gonna be a tough game for him.
Barcelona could still survive if Benfica isn’t able to win
The situation is set up in this way that Barcelona needs to secure a victory if they want their fate to be in their hands. As things stand Barcelona has 7 points and Benfica has 5. If Benfica fails to win then Barcelona will qualify automatically.
However, if Benfica does manage to win then Barcelona will have to secure a victory too. A draw will not be sufficient because then Benfica would go through on-goal difference. Benfica faces Dynamo Kyiv and there is a high chance that they will emerge victoriously.
Barcelona needs to treat this as a must-win game. If they fail to qualify it will be only the 3rd time since 2000 when the Catalonians will have failed to reach the Round of 16 of the Champions League.
Veterans Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets will have to shoulder the responsibility because Bayern will be out of the blood. However, the Bavarians might be a little overconfident about their chances to emerge victoriously.
This is the one thing that can work out in Barcelona’s favor and as the famous saying goes, “In football, anything can happen”. It will be a tough ask but bigger upsets have happened and would surely be premature to count the Catalonians out just yet.