FC Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid: Xavi Has Tactical And Line Up Surprises For El Clasico

Xavi Hernandez should have surprises in store with regards to his line up and tactics when FC Barcelona take on Real Madrid at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday.

Barca will play just their second game of the preseason in Arlington, Texas after a virus wiped out most of the squad a week ago in Santa Clara.

This meant that a scheduled meeting with Juventus had to be scrapped, and Barca finally made their 2023 debut in the US at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday against Arsenal.

The Blaugrana lost that one 5-3, with Xavi later critical of his opposite number Mikel Arteta for ordering his Premier
League side to play with such gusto.

“I said to Arteta that it was like a Champions League game. It was a little unusual, the intensity they put into the game,” Xavi complained.

“We took it seriously but they played at a different tempo and deserved the win. We were a little soft in defence.”

Barca can be forgiven for being a little off the pace because of the illness suffered by a good chunk of the traveling band, plus the fact that this was their first outing since they took on Vissel Kobe in Japan early last month.

There are no friendlies against their arch nemesis Madrid, however, and the Catalans will want to emulate a 1-0 win over them at the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium the last time they locked horns on American soil, or Super Cup and La Liga wins in January and March.

Barca also beat Madrid 1-0 at the Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, but they then suffered a 4-0 defeat in the return installment that was their worst home loss in 60 years in El Clasico and a dark moment in club history to forget.

Xavi couldn’t count on Pedri in any of those cup meetings, but he can this time.

On this occasion, the Spain international will be deployed as an attacking midfielder behind a front two of Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele according to SPORT.

To keep things tight in the center of the park, and try to prevent Jude Bellingham doing as he wishes, a midfield three of Oriol Romeu, Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong will provide support to Pedri in a 4-3-1-2.

At the back, Marc-Andre ter Stegen starts in goal and Alejandro Balde should have license to dart up the wing from left back as one of the midfielders provides cover.

Jules Kounde will be happy to partner Andreas Christensen in central defense and not be deployed at right back.

Instead, as has been the case in most Clasicos as of late, Ronald Araujo will be placed there to contain Vinicius Jr.

Though he has been absent on the tour so far, Gavi is expected to be Xavi’s trump card at some stage in the proceedings which could prompt a shift to the 4-3-3 formation that uses him as a false left winger.

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