Paris Saint-Germain star likely to keep Barcelona forward on the bench for return leg

Barcelona are preparing for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain, and Xavi Hernandez will be forced into changes due to the suspensions of Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen. Beyond that, Xavi is expected to make few changes though.

Pedri looks set to replace Roberto, and Sport say that after two promising half hour cameos, he is ready to start against PSG. Their plan is to have Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan close together at the base of midfield, with Pedri further forward. That way his recovery runs will be less taxing, and he will have more freedom to get on the ball. Fermin Lopez is likely to be his replacement once his legs do tire.

Ahead of him, Joao Felix has been performing well in recent weeks, but one key factor will keep him on the bench – the return of Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan right-back was suspended for the first leg, and is expected to be back on Tuesday night, and so the same source believes that Xavi will rely on Raphinha’s defensive work-rate on the left in order to stifle him.

Meanwhile MD point to Hakimi’s presence as one of three key changes that Luis Enrique is primed to make. Lucas Beraldo is likely to drop to the bench, with Marquinhos moving to the middle of defence. Warren Zaire-Emery is likely to replace Kang-In Lee, and Bradley Barcola will come in for an anonymous Marco Asensio from the first leg.

Three changes that should make PSG much faster and more direct. While on paper Pedri is an upgrade for Barcelona, it will require some rejigging from Xavi. Gundogan has been at his best further forward, and Pedri does not have the same positional discipline that Roberto showed in the first leg, requiring perhaps a slightly more possession orientated approach from the Blaugrana to take advantage of Pedri’s quality.

Tags Achraf Hakimi Barcelona Bradley Barcola Champions League Joao Felix Paris Saint-Germain Pedri Warren Zaire-Emery
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