Barcelona knew their match against Cadiz was not going to be a walk in the park. Not only were they going to be without Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembélé but Pedri as well — he picked an injury midweek in the Europa League versus Manchester United.
Furthermore, Cadiz have gotten positive results against the Catalans. In their last four fixtures — not including this one — Cadiz only lost one of those matches, picking up a win and two draws.
Given some of the absences, Xavi reverted to the 4-3-3 formation with Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres on the wings and Robert Lewandowski as the center-forward. In midfield, Sergi Roberto replaced Pedri and accompanied Gavi and Frenkie de Jong.
The majority of the first half played out as expected with Barcelona on the front foot and Cadiz hoping to catch them on the break. Barcelona could only muster half chances and Torres was responsible for most of them. The former Manchester City player had one of his best matches in a while. He was getting past the Cadiz defenders with his dribbling abilities and showing why Xavi still has confidence in him.
It was Torres who played a significant part in the opener.
Torres dribbled past a trio of defenders and lobbied a pass to Lewandowski. His shot was cleared off the line but landed right at Sergi Roberto who rifled one into the back of the net. It took 43 minutes but Barcelona broke the deadlock.
The Camp Nou faithful didn’t have to wait long for a second as Lewandowski, who was on a goal drought, got the ball just outside of the area. He adjusted the ball and shot past a diving Jeremias Ledesma. Lewandowski needed that goal to take some pressure off and it showed in his celebration.
The second half saw Barcelona try for a third but unable to do so. It was Cadiz who had the better chances with Ter Stegen forced to save a shot that hit the post. Choco Lozano had a header in the 86th minute that clanked off the post as well.
In the end, however, Barcelona won and kept another clean sheet. They also saw their lead climb back to eight points over Real Madrid.
While the team sputtered in the second half, the highlight of the match is Torres who, like Lewandowski, needed a good performance. He’d been in and out of the side and looked short on confidence when given an opportunity.
This time he was lively and was the most dangerous of the front three despite not scoring. His performance could give Xavi something to think about heading into the second leg at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Without two of his best midfielders and with Busquets not seeing any minutes despite getting the medical green light, Xavi could stick with the traditional 4-3-3 and play Torres on the left with Raphinha on the right. As it stands, Xavi is hoping Torres will use his performance against Cadiz to build on for the remainder of the season.