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Following a shocking exit from the UEFA Europa League in midweek, Barcelona will be aiming to get back to winning ways as they take on Cadiz on Monday.
It is a must-win game for the Catalans in their quest to secure a second-place finish come May. With 60 points, Barça are in pole position, but they will be wary of the close challenge from Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis and even Real Sociedad.
Given the strenuous game against Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek, Xavi is likely to make some personnel changes on Monday. Here, we take a look at five of the potential changes the Spaniard could introduce in this home game against Cadiz.
Adama Traore in for Ousmane Dembele
The lack of creativity upfront was one of the main reasons behind Barcelona’s downfall against Eintracht, with Ousmane Dembele, in particular, struggling to make any noticeable impact on the right flank.
In light of his performance, Xavi could be compelled to bring in Adama Traore. The on-loan Wolves winger offers a bit more thrust and strength going forward, which could be useful in getting the better of the Cadiz defenders.
Luuk de Jong in for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Luuk de Jong has become a cult hero at Camp Nou following his cameos off the bench. In the last matchday, the Dutchman notably netted a last-minute winner to help Barcelona seal all three points against Levante.
With Luuk averaging a goal per every 96 minutes this term, Xavi could be tempted to hand him a start on Monday, especially with new signing Aubameyang scoring only once in his last four competitive matches.
Memphis Depay in for Ferran Torres
Along with Aubameyang, another player who has struggled to offer productivity in recent weeks is Ferran Torres. Aside from scoring the equaliser against Frankfurt in the first leg, the former Man City starlet hasn’t done anything of note on the left flank.
Ferran’s form should give Xavi an ideal excuse to hand Memphis Depay a start against Cadiz. The Dutchman, recently returning from an injury, looked quite promising during his cameo against Frankfurt and should be an ideal candidate on the left flank in this next game.
Frenkie de Jong in for Sergio Busquets
After a hard-fought defeat to Frankfurt, Sergio Busquets could finally get a breather, as Xavi keeps one eye on the midweek encounter against Real Sociedad.
And with Pedri’s hamstring injury, we may see a couple of personnel changes in the midfield department, including Busquets, potentially returning to the bench.
It should pave the way for Frenkie de Jong to occupy the number six role. It will be essential for the Dutchman to perform in this defensive role, knowing he may have to emulate Busquets in the years to come.
Frenkie is likely to be partnered by Nico Gonzalez and Gavi on Monday, and it will be interesting to see how the former Ajax starlet uses his experience and leadership to steady the ship in the middle of the park.
Sergino Dest in for Jordi Alba
Sergino Dest is back in contention after returning from injury in the midweek game against Eintracht Frankfurt. At the same time, Xavi will also have Dani Alves back at his disposal after missing out on the Europa League game due to ineligibility.
Alves appears to be a sure-fire starter at right-back. But Xavi is likely to utilise Dest on the opposite flank, thus providing a breather for the experienced Jordi Alaba, who had an uncomfortable game against Ansgar Knauff.
Dest has featured as a left-back a few times in the past this season, and Xavi will be hoping the American international can produce his usual best as his Barcelona side take on the Andalusians on Monday.
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