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How Barcelona could line up against Espanyol

How Barcelona could line up against Espanyol

Xavi will take charge of his first game as Barcelona manager on Saturday, as they welcome Espanyol to the Camp Nou for a derby clash.

While we are yet to see how he will set up the Blaugrana, Barca have traditionally deployed a 4-3-3 system, spanning across the legendary midfielder’s time as a player, and he should stick with that initially, with former teammate Sergio Busquets leading the central unit.

The new boss inherits a long list of absentees, with Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite all ruled out of the attack, forcing Memphis Depay to lead the front line, and he will likely be joined by Phillipe Coutinho and recent addition Luuk de Jong.

The injuries do not stop there, as centre-back Gerard Pique, utility man Sergi Roberto and young midfield star Pedri are all doubts after spells on the sidelines, and the trio will be assessed closer to the game, while right-back Sergino Dest will continue to miss out through a back issue.

Roberto is expected to be fit to deputise on the right-hand side of a back four, with returning legend Dani Alves ineligible to take to the field for the Blaugrana until January.

However, Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia should continue to partner up in the middle of the defence to give Pique longer to recover.

Given the concerns around Pedri, and the high levels of game time he has played in the last two years, Xavi could ease the 18-year-old back into action and deploy Frenkie de Jong and La Masia graduate Gavi alongside Busquets in the engine room on Saturday.

Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Araujo, Garcia, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, L De Jong; Depay, L De Jong, Coutinho

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