Barcelona Coach Xavi must deal with Robert Lewandowski’s absence during a busy January, beginning with Saturday’s Catalan derby against Espanyol, despite the fact that Lewandowski has taken over La Liga.
Despite being the division’s leading scorer, the Polish striker has been suspended for three league games following his dismissal from Barcelona’s final game before the World Cup. Barcelona overcame a 10-man deficit to defeat Osasuna and move two points ahead of champion Real Madrid, who are currently second after 14 games.
Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati, and Memphis Depay all have a shot at starting up front for Xavi, but none of them is a natural center forwards.
Meanwhile, winger Ousmane Dembele, France’s World Cup runner-up, returned to Barcelona training on Monday and might play against Espanyol.
The Catalans’ rise to the top prior to the World Cup was a significant morale booster after Barca’s disappointing Champions League group-stage elimination.
After finishing the previous campaign trophyless, the coach is under pressure to win trophies in his second season in charge.
Lewandowski, Brazil winger Raphinha, France defender Jules Kunde, and other players were signed by Barcelona in the summer, and the club made controversial financial sacrifices to do so.
After Barcelona was beaten twice in Europe by his former team Bayern Munich, Lewandowski’s arrival appeared to be paying off immediately.
Xavi stated to Barca TV last week, “I am aware that we need to win titles this season.”
“I bear the majority of the burden. I also accept it. I like challenges, and bravery is required.”
The Spanish Super Cup, which takes place in the middle of January, is Barcelona’s first chance to win this season.
However, they must first defeat Intercity in the Copa del Rey and Espanyol and Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
At the other end of the table, Espanyol, a crosstown rival, are fighting for their lives at the 16th position, just one point above the drop zone.
Mentor Pablo Machin is probably going to choose Martin Braithwaite in an assault against his previous side, after a sharp farewell party the previous summer.
The forward from Danish claimed that he did not believe in Xavi, and he will have a chance to make his point on Saturday.
Xavi preferred to use Torres, Fati, and Depay as backups for Lewandowski rather than Braithwaite, so his Derby lineup will be under more scrutiny.
Player to follow: Borja IglesiasWhen Real Betis takes on Athletic Bilbao on Thursday, the striker Borja Iglesias will be looking to make a name for himself.
The Spaniard is tied for second place in La Liga with Vedat Muriqi of Real Mallorca with eight goals, and he can try to catch leader Robert Lewandowski, who has 13 goals. In addition, it is Iglesias’s first chance to impress Luis de la Fuente, the new Spain coach, after his predecessor Luis Enrique did not send him to the World Cup.
Fixtures (all times GMT) Thursday Girona vs. Rayo Vallecano (1600), Real Betis vs. Athletic Bilbao (1815), Atletico Madrid vs. Elche (2030), Getafe vs. Real Mallorca (1600), Celta Vigo vs. Sevilla (1815), Cadiz vs. Almeria (1815),
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