FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez is expected to trust experience and make at least six radical changes for Tuesday’s must-win clash against Porto in the Champions League, according to AS.
Xavi is under pressure following a two defeats, two unconvincing last-gasp victories and a draw in the Blaugrana’s last five outings.
He refuses to accept that there is a “crisis” unfolding at the Montjuic Stadium, throwing out such talk again on Saturday after his men needed a late own goal from Florian Lejeune to salvage a point at Rayo Vallecano.
The 1-1 stalemate provided the platform for Barca to fall down to fourth place in the title race four points behind leaders Real Madrid.
By the close of Monday evening, they could be as many as six off the chase from Girona if their Catalan neighbours reclaim pole position through beating Athletic Club at home.
Barca return to La Liga action with another important showdown with third-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
At the start of the week, however, they must turn attention to the continent and receive Porto in a showdown where whoever wins is pretty much guaranteed to go through to the knockout phases of the Champions League as Group H’s top seed.
Stating that his side need to make a change in “mentality” as the dust settled on the 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano, Xavi will go for broke with his more experienced players according to AS.
Out with a back injury picked up on international duty with Germany, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is expected to replace Inaki Pena and reclaim the captain’s armband from Frenkie de Jong.
On the back line, Joao Cancelo will take Balde out of the fold as Inigo Martinez keeps his place yet is joined by Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo.
Oriol Romeu’s continued struggles at pivot will result in either Ilkay Gundogan, rested against Rayo, or Frenkie de Jong manning the position as Pedri completes a midfield three.
With no room for Ferran and Lamine Yamal, Joao Felix and Raphinha step up to run out on either side of striker Robert Lewandowski.