Alberto P. Sierra
With no Lewandowski, the Barça boss must rethink his attack against Madrid
After picking up an injury at the weekend, Robert Lewandowski is out of Barça’s Copa del Rey first leg against Real Madrid. He’ll be a big miss.
He’s been a fixture in Xavi’s team, playing 2,604 minutes across 31 matches this term. Only Marc-André ter Stegen has had more game time.
Lewandowski has performed excellently for Barça, scoring 25 goals and supplying seven assists since his summer move from Bayern Munich.
The Poland striker has only tended to drop out of the Barça line-up because of injury or suspension. And he usually plays for the full 90 minutes.
Xavi has taken him off just eight times across LaLiga and the UCL, almost always very late on. Without him, how will Barça line up in attack?
When Lewandowski has been substituted during games, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres have been Xavi’s go-to replacements for the 34-year-old.
And during Lewandowski's three-game suspension after his red card against Osasuna, Barcelona’s head coach tried a few different things.
Against Atlético, Ansu played at No. 9, with Ousmane Dembélé on the right and Gavi as a fourth midfielder. Barça won 1-0 through a goal by Dembélé.
Against Getafe and Girona, Ansu led the line, with Raphinha and Dembélé either side of the Spain international. Both games were won by Pedri goals.
When Lewandowski was left out of lesser fixtures against Viktoria Plzen and Intercity, Xavi picked Memphis Depay and Ferran as his strikers. What are his plans for Thursday?
Because of injuries, the Barça boss’ options are limited. On top of Lewandowski, Pedri and Dembélé are both certain to miss the game.
And Ansu, who it seems would have been Xavi’s most likely alternative at No. 9, is short of match fitness after recovering from a knee injury.
So Ferran looks like being the man who’ll come into the Blaugrana's forward line. He’s expected to play alongside Raphinha and Gavi.
The 23-year-old has shone in past Clásico appearances, finding the net in Barcelona’s last two meetings with Real Madrid in LaLiga.
In the second half at the Bernabéu, Ansu is likely to see some game time. He has scored twice in seven career appearances against Madrid.