Balde, de Jong starts in a 4-3-3: How Barcelona could lineup against Real Sociedad

Barcelona will have a ton of pressure on their shoulders following an underwhelming display that resulted in a nil-each draw against Rayo Vallecano.

After a cracking summer window, fans want results immediately, and anything less than ‘liquid footy’ and three points will be scrutinized to no end. Xavi will have to keep this in mind as he gets his troops ready for Real Sociedad this Sunday.

The San Sebastian outfit barely escaped a goalless draw against Cadiz themselves, with Takefusa Kubo’s first-half winner proving clutch. While they created in abundance, the attack looked largely toothless in front of the goal.

Barcelona will have to vary about Sociedad’s creative metronomes in David Silva, Mikel Merino, and now even Kubo. Xavi does not have any margin of error this time around, and has to pick a faultless starting lineup.

Given his largely cryptic pre-game press conference, it is complicated to predict the players that will take the field tomorrow. Some players have a freeway, while others face complications, for one reason or another.

Barça Universal attempts to take a shot at Xavi’s starting XI ahead of Real Sociedad vs Barcelona tomorrow.

DEFENSE

It goes without saying, Marc-Andre ter Stegen evidently has Xavi’s complete trust. He was arguably Barça’s best player against Rayo, making a couple of fantastic saves.

Assuming Jules Kounde does not get registered in time for the game, we will likely see Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia start again in the heart of the back-four. The duo did a largely solid job, with the former enjoying an impressive official debut.

Reports of Jordi Alba’s absence in the defense have flooded Barcelona news channels. In his place, we should get to see Alejandro Balde take the stand as the left-back. The Spaniard had a fantastic pre-season, and is ready to finally break through to the first team.

Balde has the chance to shine tomorrow. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Given Balde’s defensive aptitude – or the lack thereof, we expect Ronald Araujo to continue as the right-back. He will shuffle across the defense to form a back-three with the centre-back out of possession.

Midfield

Right off the bat, we know Sergio Busquets is suspended for the game after picking up a red card in injury time last weekend. He will, in all probability, be replaced by Miralem Pjanic in the center of the park.

Frenkie de Jong came on for the final half-an-hour vs Rayo, providing an incredible burst of pace. He changed Barcelona’s offensive pace almost single-handedly, and will likely be rewarded with a start against La Real.

Finally, and almost unquestionably, Peter will come in to round off the midfield trident. He seemed to have picked up a minor injury against Rayo, but should be fit to start tomorrow.

Attack

Xavi has to be careful with Ousmane Dembele, who has a dark past with injuries. Last weekend, as well, the Frenchman was seen limping by the time the referee called curtains. Consequently, we expect him to be benched tomorrow.

In his place, on the right, Raphinha should get a second successive start. He had a lousy debut game, but will definitely get more space against Sociedad if given another chance. Ideally, that should do him a world of good.

Like de Jong, Ansu Fati came on to add dynamism to the attack. The Spaniard came close to scoring, too, and could start from the get-go tomorrow.

Fate · Lewandowski · Raphinha
Pedri · Pjanic · de Jong
Balde · Garcia · Christensen · Araujo
ter Stegen

Substitutes

Some of the subs are quite clear before the lineup is even revealed. If he does, indeed, start from the bench, we will almost definitely see Gavi come on for one of the interior midfielders.

Similarly, Lazy should get the nod to replace one of Raphinha or Fati. And if push comes to shove, he could also be thrown in as the extra offensive presence.

Despite his underwhelming display against Rayo, Alba’s creative prowess is never in question. He might get minutes tomorrow regardless of the scoreline.

Nor for others, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergi Roberto are among two of the candidates to come on, but we cannot forget Franck Kessie or Ferran Torres – if he is fit -, either.

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