Gavi takes another step forward in the hierarchy of Xavi’s Barcelona
The young man from Seville is positioned as Xavi’s first option to replace Dembélé, ahead of Ferran and Ansu.
Ousmane Dembélé's injury will force Xavi Hernández into heavy changes to his side over the next few games. He has lost his most unpredictable player, which leaves a very important void in the team, and one that cannot be identically replaced in the short term. Barcelona beat Girona 0-1 thanks to a solitary Pedri goal, but the headline news is the unfortunate injury to the winger.
Right now, Xavi’s squad does not have a winger with the same characteristics as the Frenchman, so the manager will be sent back to the drawing board to come up with a new plan of attack.
At first glance, either Ansu Fati or Ferran Torres might be the first potential names to cover Dembélé's loss in the offensive trio, taking into account that Robert Lewandowski is the undisputed starter in the centre-forward position and Raphinha has finally secured his place on the right wing. However, Xavi and his backroom staff are more in favour of switching things up even further, directly putting into play the system of four midfielders, with Gavi as a false left winger.
The first serious test will be this Wednesday against Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarín, in the match that was originally postponed for the Spanish Super Cup. Xavi will be able to recover Lewandowski and Ferran at the same time, after serving their suspensions. Dembélé, however, will not be back for another four weeks: a tear in the rectus femoris of his left leg on Saturday in Girona the culprit.
The offensive trio will be made up of Gavi, Lewandowski and Raphinha, with Ferran and Ansu both on the bench. Obviously, Gavi does not have either the directness, the ability to take people on, the speed, or the positioning of the French winger, but he combats of all these ‘shortcomings’ with an impressive attitude and showing almost superhuman levels of commitment in all his actions. As a result, the team, with the presence of the academy player on the wing, gains substantially when it comes to pressing the opponent’s high block.
The other options to replace Dembélé are of course Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres, although the latter could be the alternative to Raphinha in order for the Brazilian to get some much needed rest.
What is clear is that Xavi will only have four forwards in the first team for the next matches -Lewandowski, Raphinha, Ferran and Ansu-, so he will have to resort, more than ever, to versatility of the midfielders: especially Gavi and Pedri.
Interestingly, he will also be able to rely on contribution from the youth players, such as Ángel Alarcón, who, since the departure of Menphis Depay to Atlético de Madrid, has entered into the fray. As a final point, it must be said that the possibility of bringing a reinforcement this winter market seems totally unfeasible due to the strict rules set by LaLiga in the control of financial ‘fair play’.
LaLiga Santander 2022/2023
|Real Betis - Barcelona||W-01/02 15:00|
|Barcelona - Sevilla||S-05/02 15:00|
*Data updated to date January 29th, 2023
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