Xavi drops hint over Barcelona starting line-up against Manchester United

Barcelona take on Manchester United this evening in the Europa League at 21:00 CEST, knowing only a win at Old Trafford will see them through after a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou. However they will have to do so without two of their best players.

Pedri picked up an injury in the first leg, while Gavi is suspended following a booking in the second half. The big question in the Catalan capital has revolved around how Xavi Hernandez will combat their absence, with three main alternatives posited.

Sergio Busquets is likely to return, but that still leaves a fourth spot, either to be occupied by a midfielder or on the left of attack.

Speaking to Sport ahead of the match, Xavi said he had already made up his mind on the matter.

“I have already decided, but the idea does not change. We have to occupy the spaces, we are a very offensive team. We need to understand the game. It’s a game to show that Barca can compete in Europe. It varies in that with midfielders we need to counter-attack less, it depends on how the game goes, either way.”

Sergi Roberto is one of the main candidates to come into the side, especiallly if the Blaugrana continue with their four-midfielder system. Xavi spoke well of him, and perhaps dropped a hint on his plans.

“He’s a guarantee, he always does well. I’m sure he will be important, he can play in several positions.”

It suggests that Roberto will have a significant role to play, and likely from the start in that case. The 31-year-old midfielder scored and assisted in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Cadiz at the weekend, after which Xavi came out with a strong defence of his contributions, praising him. If Xavi wanted to boost Roberto’s confidence ahead of a key game, then Xavi has gone the right way about it.

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