Barcelona will brace themselves for their most crucial game in the Champions League this season as they take on Benfica on Tuesday. The Catalans are currently second in the Group E table but yet another loss to the Portuguese giants could see them slip to third, with very little chance of progression through to the next round.
Predicted Barcelona Lineup Vs Benfica
On the weekend, Barcelona kickstarted their Xavi Hernandez era with a narrow 1-0 win over Espanyol. With new signing Dani Alves not eligible to play until January and Sergino Dest struggling from an injury, the former midfielder had deployed Oscar Minguez at right-back in the last game and could be forced to do so again.
There shouldn’t be any changes in central defence, with Eric Garcia and Gerard Pique hoping to continue their good form and retain another clean sheet for the Catalans. Ronald Araujo is another option, should Xavi require some muscle in the defensive unit.
Elsewhere, Jordi Alba could be asked to solider on at left-back due to the lack of a proper alternative. There shouldn’t be any changes in goal either, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen hoping to recover his form under the leadership of the new manager.
In midfield, Xavi will continue to miss out on the services of Pedri, which may force him to continue with Nico Gonzalez in the advanced midfield role. The 17-year-old prospect is set to be partnered with Frenkie de Jong and the experienced Sergio Busquets in the middle of the park.
Xavi has no shortage of alternatives, however, with both Riqui Puig and Sergi Roberto in contention to feature. Puig, in particular, will be hoping to make an impact under the new coach after putting an end to his misery under Ronald Koeman.
As for the attacking unit, Barcelona are missing Ousmane Dembele while Ansu Fati is another absentee in this crucial fixture. Xavi had started the last game with Ilias Chakkur, but the youngster is not available for this game due to an apparent system in the UEFA Youth League that also applies in the main competition.
As such, we could witness Yusuf Demir being given a starting opportunity in attack, alongside Gavi and Memphis Depay, while Xavi may also call on the services of Philippe Coutinho.