A look at the rumoured debut XI set to be fielded by new FC Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez this weekend has been provided on Friday evening.
Derby lies in wait
Xavi, whose Camp Nou comeback was made official earlier this month, will of course lead his new side into action for the first time in less than 24 hours.
On the back of the international break coming to a close, the Blaugrana will get their campaign back underway in a highly-anticipated derby showdown with Espanyol on Saturday night.
The clash marks an important one for Xavi even when putting the fierce rivalry between the two clubs aside, with Barca, as things stand, dwindling in the depths of mid-table in La Liga.
This comes owing to a dismal opening to the season under the watch of now-former boss Ronald Koeman.
All told, the Catalan giants are winless across their last four league outings, the latest of which saw the once widely-feared Blaugrana surrender a 3-goal advantage to eventually depart Celta Vigo with just a share of the spoils.
3-0 down at half-time, Celta Vigo earn a point with the last kick of the game! pic.twitter.com/ws5Po5IY6P
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) November 6, 2021
Abde in from the off?
In turn, it is safe to say that Xavi will need to establish which players he can depend on from the get-go, to assure that his adventure on the Blaugrana bench gets off to the most fruitful start possible.
And, as alluded to above, on Friday, an insight into the members of the first-team setup in Catalunya to have impressed their new boss most has been provided, by means of a predicted XI to face Espanyol.
The info comes courtesy of Javier Giraldo of Diario Sport.
Unsurprisingly, first-choice shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is tipped to maintain his spot in between the posts, behind a 4-man backline of Oscar Mingueza, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba.
In the middle of the park, the familiar pairing of Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong will feature from the off, alongside youngster Nico, so long as the up-and-coming midfielder can recover full fitness in time.
Also expected to maintain his starting status is fellow La Masia graduate Gavi, albeit in a more advanced role than he is perhaps used to.
Memphis Depay, meanwhile, will occupy the central attacking role, but the most eye-catching member of Xavi’s alleged maiden Blaugrana line-up, without question, comes out wide, in the form of 19-year-old Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, commonly referred to as Abde.
💥 Arranca la era Xavi
🔛 El derbi recupera su esencia: Barça y Espanyol vuelven a medirse en el esperadísimo estreno nuevo técnico
— Diario SPORT (@sport) November 19, 2021