How will Barcelona line up against PSG?


Barcelona decide their European fate in the 2023/24 season on Tuesday night at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium as the Catalan giants welcome Paris Saint-Germain for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Barça carry a 3-2 advantage after an epic comeback in the first leg fueled by team spirit, inspired substitutions by Xavi Hernández and some brilliant individual performances. But the job is not done yet, and PSG have too much talent to be counted out of the tie.

Here’s how we think Xavi will line up his troops for Tuesday’s battle.


Defense

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Xavi was able to rest most of his key starters in Saturday’s narrow win away to Cádiz, so it’s all hands on deck for the biggest game of the season. Gavi and Alejandro Balde miss out through injury and Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen are suspended, but everyone else is available for selection.

There shouldn’t be any changes to the back four that started last week, with Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Pau Cubarsí and João Cancelo all playing integral parts in slowing down Kylian Mbappé and the rest of PSG’s attack for most of the night. They all need to be at their best once again, especially since the French champions will likely be more aggressive in attack needing a result on the road.

Midfield

FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24

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The suspensions to Roberto and Christensen make Xavi’s life a little difficult when it comes to his midfield selection. We know Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gündogan will start like they did last week, but is Pedri ready for 90 minutes and maybe extra-time? The Spaniard was magnificent as a substitute in Paris, played another excellent half-hour at the weekend and is the natural final piece to complete the midfield trio, but his fitness is still a big question.

We think Pedri will start, but don’t be shocked if Fermín López is given the chance to play from the jump in the biggest game of his young career so far. The 20-year-old has done plenty to prove he can handle the big occasion and is more than capable of holding the fort for 45-60 minutes if Xavi decides to save Pedri for the second half.

Attack

FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24

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Raphinha played the best game of his Barça career in Paris and will need to be decisive again on Tuesday, and his work rate and willingness to track back will also be crucial since he’ll start on the left wing and likely face off against Achraf Hakimi, who returns from suspension and is a key piece of the PSG attack on the right side.

Robert Lewandowski will lead the line once again, and despite not scoring in Paris the Pole was very important to the victory with his link-up and hold-up play. PSG will press high and be more aggressive on Tuesday, and Lewy will need to prove much-needed relief if and when his teammates at the back are put under pressure.

Lamine Yamal will complete the side on the right wing, and while the teenager wasn’t exactly at his best in Paris he still provided the assist for the opening goal and was reportedly under the weather last week. If he’s back to full health, especially after resting for an hour at the weekend, Lamine can prove to be a decisive factor in Barça’s ability to reach the semis.

João Félix scored at the weekend and is in excellent form, and he’ll likely be the first option off the bench in the second half.


Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsí, Cancelo; Gündogan, De Jong, Pedri; Yamal, Lewandowski, Raphinha (4-3-3)


How do you think Barcelona should line up against PSG? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!

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