Barcelona return to Champions League action on Wednesday night looking to build on the thrashing of Royal Antwerp on matchday one.
Joao Felix and Robert Lewandowski led Barca to a convincing 5-0 win over the Belgians, but things won’t be so easy against former Champions League winners Porto at the Estadio Do Dragao – they kicked off their campaign with an impressive 3-1 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Barca head coach Xavi has a couple of injury concerns to contend with, but should be able to field a strong lineup despite losing Raphinha to injury in the 1-0 win over Sevilla on Friday night.
Here’s the XI the Spaniard may put out ready for kick off.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – The German conceded just 18 goals in La Liga last season, at a near career-high save percentage of 84.7, but has already shipped eight in eight this time around. A second Champions League clean sheet in a row would do nicely.
RB: Joao Cancelo – Some are still mystified by Manchester City’s willingness to palm off Cancelo on loan, such is his quality on both flanks. But the Premier League champions’ loss is very much Barca’s gain.
CB: Jules Kounde (CB) – Spent the majority of 2022/23 playing at right-back but is now establishing himself back in his favoured role.
CB: Andreas Christensen – Ronald Araujo’s early season inconsistency has allowed Christensen to stake his claim for a regular place in the side. To his credit, the Dane is doing well so far.
LB: Alejandro Balde – A prominent member of Barcelona’s next generation of superstars, Balde is the obvious choice on the left of a back four.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – Yet to really build up any momentum following his summer move, but the German is a classy operator who offers a baseline of consistency.
CM: Gavi – With Frenkie de Jong and Pedri sidelined, the chances keep on coming for Gavi to show what he’s made of in central midfield.
CM: Fermin Lopez – Rewarded for his first team breakthrough with a new long-term contract, Lopez opened his goalscoring account for Barcelona by netting the equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Mallorca.
RW: Lamine Yamal – Born on 13 July, 2007, Yamal is so young that he’s not legally allowed to feature in EA Sports’ FC 24 game. But the virtual world’s loss is very much the real world’s gain, with the teenage wonderkid establishing himself as one of Xavi’s finest prospects.
ST: Robert Lewandowski (ST) – Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored more goals than Lewandowski (92) in the Champions League, making him the competition’s most prolific active player.
LW: Joao Felix – The Portuguese’s arrival in Catalonia was met with initial skepticism, such was the talent pool of forwards available to Xavi. But Felix has hit the ground running at Barcelona, netting three times in six games across all competitions.
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