In only the third game of the Champions League, Barcelona face what could be considered a must win game against Inter Milan.
The Catalans sit in second place in their group, tied with Inter, behind Bayern Munich. With the Germans likely to top the group when all is said and done, Barcelona will battle the Italians for the second and final spot.
“It seems like that’s the case,” Xavi said. “We both lost to Bayern and beat Viktoria [Plzen], so Tuesday is a very important game — and the one next week as well at home.”
With injuries to the backline, Xavi Hernandez will once again need to mix and match to comprise the defense. Frenkie de Jong, who was a doubt, did not make the matchday squad meaning Barcelona will be without one of their better midfielders.
Barça rested a handful of players in their win away to Real Mallorca. Expect Eric Garcia, Marcos Alonso and Sergi Roberto to make up the defense alongside Andreas Christensen. In midfield, Pedri will star with Sergio Busquets and Gavi. In attack, we’ll see the trio of Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.
It’s as strong a starting eleven Barcelona can put out considering the absences of Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde.
Inter Milan are carrying injuries of their own. Romelu Lukaka is unavailable as is Marcelo Brozovic. Lautaro Martinez is also a doubt and is unlikely to start if he’s available at all.
The two teams head into the match in opposite directions.
With Real Madrid’s draw at home versus Osasuna, Barcelona climbed into first place in LaLiga. Inter are coming off a 2-1 loss to Roma and currently sit in ninth place in Serie A.
Despite their respective forms, Xavi is warning his team to not underestimate their opponent.
“That is not significant, it’s still Inter,” Xavi said. “They’re a strong team. They have a different system to what we have faced so far, a really strong spine and a good coach [in Simone Inzaghi]. They are really tough opponents.”
Barcelona played well in Germany against Bayern Munich but failed to take advantage of their superiority and ended up losing. They cannot afford to make the same mistakes against Inter.
Should they win this game and the match next week at the Camp Nou, Barcelona will all but ensure themselves a place in the knockout round, improving on their performance from last season.