BARCELONA boss Quique Setien is set to ditch the club’s traditional style in order to find a way past Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The pair are the only two former winners left in this year’s competition, but Bayern appear to have most people’s backing going into the crunch tie in Lisbon.
Setien was appointed as Ernesto Valverde’s successor back in January with his love of Barcelona’s traditional 4-3-3 philosophy in mind.
But in order to combat Bayern’s perceived superior fitness and athleticism, he appears set to utilise a 4-4-2 diamond formation on Friday night.
The game plan will be focused around staying solid and compact, while giving Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez free rein to cause havoc upfront.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen will likely have a busy night between the sticks, while Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet will have a tough job protecting him – with Samuel Umtiti again missing out through injury and Jean-Clair Todibo having tested positive for Covid-19.
Full-backs Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba will have important roles in providing width in attack, as well as trying to combat the likes of Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Alphonso Davies at the other end.
Sergio Busquets will have to utilise every ounce of his experience as he anchors Barca’s diamond midfield – despite the vast majority of his previous 578 appearances for the club having come in a trio.
Sergi Roberto, such a versatile member of Setien’s squad, will likely start to Busquets’ right, while Frenkie de Jong, who was part of the Ajax side that beat Juventus at this stage of last year’s competition, will play to the left.
The main loser from Setien’s change of system will likely be Antoine Griezmann, with Arturo Vidal set to be the most advanced of the midfield four – the Chilean returning from suspension to feature against his former club.
Upfront will unquestionably be Messi and Suarez, leaving £107million man Griezmann left on the bench.
Arthur is unavailable after going AWOL ahead of his move to Juventus, although Ivan Rakitic and Riqui Puig will provide midfield reinforcement if necessary.
Should Setien want to alter his system and turn to wide forwards, Ousmane Dembele may be available again following a long hamstring injury lay-off – and youngster Ansu Fati will also be waiting in the wings.