Some elements of Xavi's selection are still not clear as he sticks to rotation plan
Eight games (six in LaLiga and two in the Champions League) have served to give us an idea of Xavi Hernandez's plans for his Barcelona squad. Seeing his team selections the first thing that becomes clear is that he is sticking with his promise to rotate. Xavi insisted in the summer: he wanted two good players per position. The objective was to have different options depending on the games.
Barça gave Xavi what he wanted and he is responding by making lots of changes, although there is a clear spine of the team developing. The most significant decision he has made so far has been to reduce the importance of Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, two players he shared a dressing room with as a player. Another interesting statistic is that the most used XI in terms of minutes is not that side that started against Bayern Munich, the biggest game of the season so far.
The most used XI is the gala XI?
The players having most minutes when available are: Ter Stegen; Koundé, Araujo, Eric, Balde; Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Dembélé, Lewandowski and Raphinha.
But at the Allianz Arena, Xavi went for Marcos Alonso over Balde and Andreas Christensen over Garcia. The sensation is he would use that defence again for Barça's next nig game. The game against Inter in Milan on Oct. 4 will serve to see how Xavi is thinking in that sense.
Another interesting element is the rotation and use of players like Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres and Frenkie de Jong. In the first case, Xavi says he has a specific plan for a player still coming back from some serious injuries. He has started just once and usually plays the final 30 minutes of games.
Ansu has not shown the explosiveness he has before injuries and the feeling is it's about measuring how much he plays and not taking risks. Barça insist on patience. As for Ferran, his role has reduced, but in part that is down to a foot injury that kept him sidelined during preseason.
De Jong is another player in and out of the team. This season instead of being a regular in the team, he's the joker of the midfield. If Busquets does not play, the Dutchman plays at the base of the midfield. If he plays alongside Busquets, he plays further forward, as an interior. That said, De Jong has played more minutes than Busquets (469 vs 426), although that in part is down to Busquets missing one game through suspension.
Most players are getting minutes in Xavi's rotation planning. The only exception is Pablo Torre, who has only featured once, in the Champions League, this season.