2022 has not been kind towards Ansu Fati, who suffered a relapse of his hamstring injury in January when Barcelona travelled to the Basque region to take on Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey.
The Spaniard was given the choice of going through surgery – which the club recommended – or conservative treatment. Fati decided to go with the latter, which effectively ruled him out for 3-4 months. Going under the knife would have sidelined him for upwards of six months.

Javi Miguel has provided an essential update on his return, stating that the winger will likely be back on the green in April. Obviously, with a player as young, talented, but unfortunately injury prone as Fati, Barcelona want to take no risks, so adding a few weeks on his return would not be surprising.
Fati in, Aubameyang out? Or Adama?
Barcelona understood the need of the hour for January was to invest in the frontline, given Ousmane Dembele’s contract situation and Fati’s injury. As such, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were brought in from the Premier League.

All three have gone off to a great start in the garnet and blue. Torres has scored two and assisted two goals in seven games, while Adama has set up two goals and won a penalty in four games.

As for Aubameyang, the striker started slowly, adjusting to the team with cameos. He quickly burst on the scene with a hat-trick against Valencia, though, as Barcelona beat Los Che 1-4 at the Mestalla.

With Fati’s return, he is expected to be a starter in attack, even if not immediately. As such, Xavi is faced with the dilemma of who to bench.

A trio of Fati, Aubameyang, and Torres provides unparalleled off-the-ball movement and speed but lacks a creative outlet in the attacking third. Adama adds some balance, but apart from Luuk de Jong, no Barça attacker can constantly get on the end of his crosses.

Consequently, we predict Xavi to go with the trio of Ansu Fati on the left, one of Ferran Torres or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through the centre, with Ousmane Dembele on the right.

This frontline provides the best balance in terms of space and ball dominance, mixing players who can excel in several roles. In Fati, the team has a clinical finisher, while Dembele provides unpredictability.

Further, both Aubameyang and Torres are players who like to switch positions with the left-winger often, so either would be comfortable playing with Fati, who can excel centrally. Adama is an excellent player to have on the bench against tired legs, and at this point, we cannot ignore Luuk.

That said, Xavi is a man who likes to keep it fresh through rotations. Depending on the opposition, his idea of the offence might change, and that has pleased Barcelona fans.

For the first time in a while, though, the manager does not have a gala XI, let alone a first-choice attacking trident. Will the switches pay off for the Camp Nou faithful as they fight it out for the top 4 and Europa League?