With Barcelona being one of the busier teams during January’s transfer window, it had left manager Xavi with something of a dilemma – albeit one that could be considered a nice problem at the same time.
Because with four new arrivals during last month’s frenzy of transfer activity, the Xavi era is beginning to pick up pace and with the former midfielder overseeing what can only be described as a painful rebuild, the construction phase is now underway.
Construction that has seen the quartet of a returning Dani Alves, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang change their allegiance to Barcelona and although these four faces are highly welcomed, it is one too many for their tilt at this season’s Europa League.
At odds of 8/1 with bet365, Barcelona are currently third favourites to win Europe’s secondary club competition and although Xavi would have loved to have named all four of his new arrivals in the Europa League squad, only three are permitted.
Which meant the ex-Al Sadd manager had to make a choice and one where someone would have to act as the odd man out – a decision that eventually saw veteran Dani Alves left out of their 25-man squad.
A decision that was tough, perhaps even harsh but the logic was that although Sergino Dest would be their only recognised right-back in the Europa League squad, a change of formation would ease the burden on the American defender.
One that would see the Catalan outfit move to a 3-5-2 formation instead and if that were to be the case, Adama Traore’s versatility would be utilised and the former Wolves player would be used in a more defensive role.
Although Dani Alves will take some umbrage at being left out of any European action between now and the end of the season, he will certainly understand the reason why and more importantly, it will keep him fresh for Barcelona’s LaLiga skirmishes.
Going into this weekend’s round of Spanish league action, Barcelona finds themselves a point outside the Champions League places in fifth, with the final automatic invite currently being in the grasp of Atletico Madrid.
While as luck would have it, the two teams meet at the Camp Nou on Sunday and with the hosts priced at odds of 13/10 with Betfair to win, it might just be worth your consideration as the race for Champions League berths intensifies.