Why Xavi won't be on the touchline for Barcelona vs Valencia

Euan Burns
Xavi was on the touchline against Real Madrid in the cup but won't be there against Valencia
Xavi was on the touchline against Real Madrid in the cup but won't be there against Valencia / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Barcelona are going to be without a number of key players when they take on Valencia this weekend and will also be missing manager Xavi Hernandez.

It's been a tough period of the season for the Blaugrana after an unexpected La Liga defeat to Almeria and the Europa League exit at the hands of Manchester United.

The hangover from the Almeria match is still being felt despite victory in the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid, with a handful of suspensions adding further strain to the squad on top of the existing injuries.

Who is missing for Barcelona against Valencia?

In the 1-0 defeat against Almeria, coach Xavi and midfielder Gavi were yellow carded. It was the fifth booking of the season for each, meaning they will sit out Sunday's game against Valencia. Xavi and Gavi were both booked for protesting decisions made by referee Ortiz Arias.

Confidence will have been helped by the fact Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 on Thursday night in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg. The pressure is really on for the La Liga title race though as the gap has come slightly down to seven points.

The suspension for Gavi is a major blow considering Pedri is also out thanks to the injury he picked up in the first leg against Man Utd in the Europa League. Sergio Busquets is fit again and was partnered by Frenkie de Jong and Franck Kessie on Thursday night.

Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele are both out injured, meaning Xavi will have to dig deep in the squad and then watch on from the stands.


Who is expected to start for Barcelona against Valencia?

To illustrate the scope of Barcelona's selection headache in attack ahead of the Valencia match, the front three against Real Madrid on Thursday was Raphinha and Gavi either side of Ferran Torres in the middle.

Raphinha is available despite some online confusion over the amount of yellow cards he has received this season - he sits on four alongside Torres, Kessie, Dembele and Busquets.

If Xavi continues with a 4-3-3, the likely candidate to come into the attack would be Ansu Fati on the left wing alongside Torres and Raphinha.

However, Xavi may consider switching to a 3-5-2 formation as there are more options in defence and midfield to pack out those central areas. It is far from an ideal situation and while Valencia have had a truly horrendous season, they secured a morale-boosting win against Real Sociedad last time out and will be smelling blood when they travel to Camp Nou on Sunday.

The match kicks off on Sunday 5 March at 15:15 GMT. If Barcelona choose to stick with their usual 4-3-3 formation, don't be surprised to see a La Masia product getting a start on the wing. There will be an open opportunity for someone to impress and stake a claim for the rest of the season.


On this week's edition of TFP, Harry Symeou hosts Grizz KhanScott Saunders and Hunter Godson to preview the weekend's Premier League action, including Man Utd's trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.

If you can't see this embed, click here to watch the video!