FC Barcelona could drop another one of its main stars according to SPORT, as head coach Xavi Hernandez rotates players in a packed calendar.
On Tuesday, it was Joao Felix’s turn to sit on the bench for a Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk in Hamburg.
The Portuguese hadn’t been a substitute since before the September international break, or, more specifically, just days after he joined Barca on loan from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day.
In the eventual 1-0 loss that was their second defeat in three games, Barca failed to have a single shot on goal until well past 60 minutes.
Felix was brought on as part of a quadruple substitution to little avail, and scuffed a key chance to equalize created by teenager Lamine Yamal.
With Ferran Torres and Raphinha limp against the Ukrainians, Felix and Lamine could get the nod for Sunday’s La Liga hosting of Alaves at the Montjuic Stadium.
As suggested by SPORT, though, another leading star for the Blaugrana could be dropped and rotated in Ilkay Gundogan.
Joining on a free transfer from Manchester City ahead of 2023/2024, the German hasn’t stopped all season with his only deployment as substitute the 26 minutes he picked up against Real Betis on September 16 when he replaced Oriol Romeu.
Notching the most minutes in the squad overall – 1,361 – he has made 11 consecutive appearances and played 990 minutes since the 5-0 routing of Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
With Frenkie de Jong absent through injury, Gundogan has been moved back to the pivot position to replace Romeu during his slump in form.
Against Alaves, Romeu could recover his berth as he did versus Shakhtar, while Fermin Lopez and Gavi, or perhaps one of the Andalusians and Pedri, occupy the more attacking midfield slots.
Unlike Gundogan, who will play against his parents’ birthland Turkey plus Austria, Pedri wasn’t called up for his country’s two fixtures across the upcoming international break.
A lack of match rhythm was the reason for the snub from the Spain national team according to AS, and Pedri could start to find some of that again against Alaves after a late August knock to his right quadriceps.