When all seemed set for Barcelona going into the Europa League knockout clash against Manchester United, Xavi decided to make some changes to the personnel, that ended up having a huge impact on the team performance.
The tactician dropped Andreas Christensen in favour of Marcos Alonso, while Alejandro Balde was replaced by Jordi Alba at left-back.
While the former scored the opening goal of the goal, Jules Kounde’s displacement in central defence, coupled with Alonso’s inability to keep up with Marcos Rashford meant that Barcelona were on the backfoot for most of the game.
Further, Gavi picked up a yellow card, and Pedri picked up a hamstring knock, ruling both of them out for the second leg.
All of this means, Xavi has a huge lineup selection dilemma against United.
The left-wing spot has left a huge hole in the team, and according to Fernando Polo, Xavi could also use Jordi Alba as a left-winger in this crucial second leg.
The reporter says that while the veteran defender starts in attack, Alejandro Balde will be asked to cover ground as the left-back, or vice-versa.
This is definitely an interesting tactic, and seems like an attempt to double down on the wing against United’s attack. However, it could also mean that Alba inverts inside as an auxiliary central midfielder, while Balde runs the rule on the byline.
Through this, Xavi will be able to mirror the 3-2-2-3 system he has been using with Gavi deployed on the wing, but tucking in to form an attacking midfield duo alongside Pedri.
Alba’s vision and crossing from the edge of the box also mean that Barcelona will have an extra creator to feed Robert Lewandowski.
Furthermore, the Barcelona captain definitely has definitely built a knack for scoring in recent seasons. In fact, his stellar finishing was on display against Sevilla as Franck Kessie assisted him for the opening goal.
All said and done, though, this is nothing more than an early insight into a possible solution Xavi could muster up. Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati are also among the options that are fighting for a place on the left-wing.