Copa del Rey 2018-19: Predicted Barcelona line-up
After hosting Los Blancos at the Camp Nou, Barcelona are set to take on Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-final. While both teams settled for a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Real Madrid have the away goal advantage going into the second leg.
However, it is important to note that Barcelona were playing the majority of the game without their talisman Lionel Messi in the first leg. His timely return would be a much-needed boost for the Catalan club. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to note that Barcelona would be playing without one of their most influential players this season, Arthur Melo.
Despite that, Barcelona should be optimistic going into this game and look to retain their trophy this season.
The Probable Lineup and Tactical Preview
It seems that Ernesto Valverde could stick with lining his side up in a 4-3-3 as shown in the image above. Furthermore, even Santiago Solari might go with the same line up he used in the first leg, with the exception of Marcelo being replaced by Sergio Reguilon.
Contrary to the image shown, the shape of the front three might change during the course of the game with Ousmane Dembele moving to the right wing and Messi playing as a shadow striker behind Suarez. Dembele has been in scintillating form this season and his presence on the right wing could inject some much-needed pace in the Blaugrana attack.
In the midfield, Carles Alena deserves to start ahead of Arturo Vidal. The midfield trio of Vidal, Busquets and Rakitic has been unimpressive this season and has often looked short of ideas and creativity, a void which could be fulfilled by Alena. In addition to that, Alena has looked really bright this season and his inclusion could bring that spark in midfield. As a right-sided midfielder, he would play closer to Messi and link up with him to create overloads on the right side of the pitch along with Dembele.
It is important that Barcelona attack through the right in this game to exploit the inexperience of Vinicius Jr. and Reguilon. Barcelona's attacking from the left is much weaker given Philippe Coutinho's poor form and the likelihood that he will be dropped. Jordi Alba would be marked tightly by Lucas Vazquez.
In defence, Barcelona could go with the same back four which they had used in the first leg. While the inclusion of Lenglet might surprise many, it is important to note that Samuel Umtiti has just returned from injury and is not yet match fit for such an important fixture. Semedo should start this game as he is defensively much better than Roberto and can deal with the quickness of Vinicius Jr.
However, on the left of the defence, Alba could be outnumbered against the likes of Carvajal and Vazquez. To solve that issue, it is necessary that Rakitic constantly cover up for Alba or support him while defending the left side. Through the middle, it is important for Busquets and Pique to be tight on Benzema and not afford him any space.
Moreover, Barcelona also need to be wary of Real Madrid's high pressing style while playing out from the back. It is important that the players move the ball quickly across the pitch in an attempt to occupy their opponents.
The second leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-final looks evenly poised and either side could qualify to the finals. However, Barcelona have an edge over Real Madrid due to the presence of Messi in their lineup and they might just pip Los Blancos and advance to the final.