Barcelona travel to the Basque Country to face Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday night.
The whole point of Barcelona’s economic levers was to provide short-term rewards. Yet, after selling off millions of future revenue for a fraction of its worth, Barcelona could only muster a 0-0 draw against Rayo Vallecano last weekend.
Here’s the XI Xavi Hernandez may deploy in a bid to achieve the immediate success the club have bet on so heavily.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – The German has been spotted zipping around Gracia – Barcelona’s trendy town – on his electric scooter in the past.
RB: Ronald Araujo – On the advice of the club’s youth team coaches, Araujo has based his game on Barcelona legend Carles Puyol, spending hours watching videos of the defender on YouTube.
CB: Andreas Christensen – The son of a former professional goalkeeper prevented Ter Stegen from facing an effort from point-blank range as he made a last-ditch sliding tackle on his debut against Rayo.
CB: Eric Garcia – The Masia graduate captained every youth team he played for in Barcelona’s fabled academy. He may not have the senior armband yet, but he may well have a starting berth.
LB: Jordi Alba – After agreeing to rejoin Barcelona shortly before the Euro 2012 final, his future teammate and current manager, Xavi, assisted his goal in the showpiece fixture.
CM: Gavi – Less than 12 months ago, the regular starter for Barcelona and the senior national team was still turning out in the third tier of Spanish football.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – After a preseason of uncertainty – which continues to rage on in the background – De Jong may be drafted in as the most natural replacement for the suspended Sergio Busquets.
CM: Pedri – In a significant move for a player who idolised Andres Iniesta so much he wanted the same haircut as the balding midfielder – his dad shut that down – Pedri was given his iconic number eight shirt this season.
RW: Raphinha – Barcelona is in Raphinha’s blood. His father Rafael was part of the band – Samba Tri – which Ronaldinho flew over to Catalonia for his birthday celebration each year.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – Last weekend was the first time in eight years that Lewandowski failed to score in his club’s first game of the season.
LW: Ousmane Dembele – The Frenchman created the most chances across the opening weekend of La Liga (five) but failed to carve out a goal for his teammates.