Barcelona coach Xavi to bring changes in vital home game against Villarreal

FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is expected to bring changes when his side entertains Villarreal at Camp Nou on Thursday.

The game comes on the back of last week’s 3-3 draw at home to Inter Milan, which almost ended Barca’s hopes of advancing in the Champions League and Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, where Barca rarely looked as if they were going to get anything from their eternal rivals, reports Xinhua.

Barca were flat and lacked a change of pace in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and also looked vulnerable to Madrid’s rapid counterattacks: something that Villarreal, with players such as Arnaut Danjuma, are also highly effective at.

Xavi is likely to bring Ansu Fati into his starting 11 for Ousmane Dembele, whose form has dipped in recent matches, while youngster Gavi also looks certain to be back in the side.

Veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets will probably be the player to step down after looking off the pace in Barca’s last two matches.

Ferran Torres’ reward for scoring in the Bernabeu is a place on the right for Raphinha, with the summer signing likely to be rested ahead of next Sunday’s game at home to Athletic Club Bilbao.

Jules Kounde and Eric Garcia are expected to continue in central defense with Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen still injured and although Hector Bellerin is now back in full training, it could be early for him to return to the starting 11.

Villarreal have only had two days to prepare for the visit to Camp Nou after Monday’s solid 2-0 win at home to Osasuna with two goals from Arnaut Danjuma and despite his prestige, coach Unai Emery has a poor record against Barcelona with just three wins in 29 meetings.

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