The last time Barcelona faced Real Madrid, in the Copa del Rey, the match ended with a startlingly poor result for the Catalan giants, and changes will be required for the upcoming La Liga Clasico.
With a spot in the Copa el Rey finals on the line, Madrid dominated Barca and earned a 3-1 victory. It was a shocking outcome after European football’s two biggest rivals had produced so many close matches in the past.
In order to ensure that another blowout does not occur, Jordi Roura will need to adjust his lineup and his tactics.
Here are the changes Barcelona must make to win its La Liga showdown with Real Madrid.
Move Andres Iniesta Back to the Midfield
Barcelona’s attack this past Tuesday was stale and unimaginative. Those are adjectives that have rarely applied to the team over the past several seasons.
It was a massive letdown that came on the heels of another poor offensive showing against AC Milan in Champions League.
Against both Madrid and Milan, Iniesta was on the wing instead of in the midfield. When playing so far up the pitch and near the touchline, his creativity and vision are not as useful.
If he is playing in the center of the field with his teammates making runs in front of him, it will provide Barcelona with the spark it needs going forward.
Start David Villa and Alexis Sanchez on the Wings
Roura also needs to make sure that the players in front of Iniesta are capable of beating Madrid’s stout defense.
Putting Sanchez and Villa on the front line with Lionel Messi gives Barcelona the blend of speed, skill and versatility it will need in this match.
The pace of Messi and Villa will cause problems for the Madrid back line, and all three players are capable of attacking from the wing or down the center. This gives the team the ability to execute the free-flowing movement that is a key component of its signature brand of football.
With Iniesta and Xavi looking for these three players, Barca’s attack will be significantly more dangerous than it was earlier in the week.
Sit Carles Puyol in Favor of Javier Mascherano
Madrid’s second goal in the Copa del Rey showdown has created a highlight that has surely received plenty of mileage in Spain’s capital.
Puyol has been a fixture at the heart of Barcelona’s defense for over a decade, but the image of him collapsing to the ground after a devastating move from Angel Di Maria may end up marking the end of an era.
He is no longer the same defensive force he once was due to age and injury, and at this moment, Mascherano is the better player.
This is a vital match for Barcelona, as the team needs to regain confidence and momentum in order to salvage its Champions League campaign, and because of this, Roura needs his best 11 players on the pitch.
Unfortunately for Puyol, he is no longer a first-choice player.