Barcelona’s upcoming La Liga clash with Real Sociedad is already making headlines, and it is not just about the anticipated showdown on the pitch. Manager Xavi can breathe a sigh of relief as he welcomes back all his players, with two notable exceptions – club captain Sergi Roberto and Frenkie de Jong.
In the wake of their recent home defeat against arch-rivals Real Madrid, it became evident that Barcelona had been heavily reliant on a select few players. The absence of key figures like Roberto, Jules Kounde, de Jong, and Pedri exposed this overreliance, leaving the team somewhat vulnerable. This will obviously affect these tips and predictions for the odds for Barcelona to win the league.
Even those who were available, like Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, lacked the competitive rhythm to make a significant impact. Injuries have plagued the squad recently, forcing Xavi to turn to players from the reserve team. Marc Guiu’s impressive goal against Athletic Club was a bright spot, but the necessity to call up players like Hector Fort, Pau Cubarsi, Marc Casado, and Aleix Garrido underlined the less-than-ideal circumstances Barcelona found themselves in.
However, the tide is set to turn as Barcelona prepares for their clash with Real Sociedad. While the news is generally positive, there remains some uncertainty about Frenkie de Jong’s availability, as he is expected to need about another week for a full recovery. In the upcoming week, players like Kounde, Pedri, and ultimately de Jong will be focusing on rebuilding their form and intensity. Raphinha and Lewandowski will also be part of the squad facing Sociedad, adding depth to the team’s options.
With a fully fit squad, internal competition within the team is set to increase, providing Xavi with the flexibility to rotate his top performers and unleash them strategically during the second half of matches.
Despite the injuries and the challenges faced, several players have shouldered significant responsibilities. Names like Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan, and Ferran Torres have been playing relentlessly, accumulating an exhausting four hours of gameplay in just seven days. The grueling schedule has left them little room to rest.
However, Barcelona is determined to make the most of the situation. As they head into the critical phase of the season, they have set their sights on securing a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 and narrowing the four-point gap with Real Madrid in La Liga. While becoming year-end leaders is not an obsession, they are focused on closing in on their rivals and making their mark on the competition.
In conclusion, Barcelona’s fortunes are looking up as they approach their fixture against Real Sociedad. With a nearly complete squad at his disposal, Xavi has a much stronger hand to play. The return of key players and the increase in internal competition bode well for the club’s ambitions in both domestic and European competitions.