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14.05.2010 15:55

Plenty of alternatives to Xavi

David Puig

If Xavi doesn’t play against Valladolid, Guardiola doesn’t have to worry too much. A trio formed by Sergio, Touré and Iniesta is just one extremely strong alternative.

If FC Barcelona’s appeal to the authorities to get Xavi Hernández reprieved from his suspension fails to achieve its aim, the first team would still have a strong midfield. Xavi has only missed five games this year, but FCB won them anyway.

Iniesta, the natural replacement

2010-02-20_PARTIDO_35.JPGAn obvious option for Josep Guardiola is to substitute Xavi with Andrés Iniesta, as long as he fully recovers from injury in time. Iniesta has often filled in for him as central playmaker, as he did twice this season, at the Camp Nou against Racing Santander (4-0) and Osasuna (2-0). Iniesta also played the Champions League encounter with Stuttgart (4-0), but played wide on the left that time.

Touré, another alternative

FCB_-_Espanyol_x9x.JPGGuardiola has also covered for Xavi with tactical changes. Twice he has switched to a 4-2-3-1 and played Touré in a more attacking role and used Busquets to add solidity to the midfield. This was done nicely against Osasuna at the Camp Nou and especially in the Champions League return match against Stuttgart. In that position, Touré played one his finest games ever for the club and the game was won in handsome fashion.

Sergio, Touré and Keita

2010-01-02_PARTIDO_27.JPGA trident formed by Sergio Busquets, Touré and Keita has also been used with Barça employing the classic 4-3-3 system without Xavi, and once again with very positive results. All three featured against Zaragoza at La Romareda (2-4) and in Leon against Cultural Leonesa (0-2) in the cup. Touré filled in for Xavi and did an excellent job.
Plenty of alternatives to Xavi
Thiago, a reserve option
Xavi could also be replaced by young reserve player Thiago Alcántara. Jonathan Dos Santos might be a more natural choice, but he is injured, meaning Thiago could fill in as central playmaker, although in the two games he has played this season, he has taken a more attacking role supported by Andrés Iniesta. He started against Sevilla (1-2) in the Copa del Rey and came on for Touré against Racing Santander, where he scored his first goal for Barça.

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