Xavi’s side are now eight points clear
Barcelona coach Xavi promised pre-game rotations and kept his word as he refreshed his team against Cadiz.
There were six changes and chances to impress in the starting XI Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati compared to the draw with Manchester United.
Ferran took his chance, Eric looked typically good in possession without fully convincing and it was another tough night for Ansu Fati.
Barcelona’s 2-0 lead also allowed Xavi to give the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong a breather late before Thursday’s big game.
All in all it was a good night for Barcelona, although they missed chances in the second half and travel to Old Trafford in good form.
Ferran Torres has been a forgotten man at Barcelona this season but recalled his qualities against Cadiz.
The Spain international was there from the start and looked enthusiastic right from the start of the game. He was Barca’s best attacker in the first 45 minutes and set up the goal with a brilliant game.
Ferran beat Arzamendia, Alcaraz and Fali with skillful footwork before finding Lewandowski. The striker’s header was cleared off the line but landed on Sergi Roberto. But make no mistake, the opening goal was all about Ferran.
This feat came a long time ago from Ferran and you could hear the relief in his words when he spoke up after the game.
“I work to show my football, it’s true I haven’t had many minutes and not much importance in the team,” he said. “Every time the coach puts his trust in me, I go out there and show him what I’m made of.”
Ferran is hoping to start again at Old Trafford on Thursday night when he returns to Manchester. Xavi is a little short on options for the game which means Ferran might just have worked his way into the squad.
Sergio Roberto was in the team’s midfield due to Pedri’s injury and took the armband in the absence of Sergio Busquets.
The 31-year-old also set an example, scoring the opening goal with a commanding finish and then setting up Lewandowski for Barcelona’s second.
Xavi was quick to praise Roberto after the win and slammed his critics for their “unjust criticism” of the versatile veteran. The manager also made it clear he would like Roberto to stay amid speculation he will sign a new one-year deal.
It was a good game for Roberto, who will be needed against Manchester United in midweek as both Pedri and Gavi were eliminated in the second leg at Old Trafford. Roberto may have his critics but he knows a thing or two about priceless European goals.
Robert Lewandowski started with just one goal in his last six league games and it looked like it was one of those nights again as he saw a header cleared off the line before Roberto scored.
However, Lewandowski ended his mini-duck with a low shot to make it 2-0 just before half-time. Remarkably, it’s his first league goal at Camp Nou since October.
Lewandowski now has 15 goals in just 19 games in La Liga and Xavi is hoping his latest effort can get him back up and running after a minor losing streak. In fact, the striker could have scored another goal later, but failed to hit the crossbar.
Lewandowski’s latest effort means he remains the season-ending favorite to lift the Pichichi and is four goals ahead of nearest challengers Karim Benzema and Joselu.
Pablo Torre would have fancied his chances of playing a few more minutes in the first-team against Cádiz but it just wasn’t to be. The 18-year-old was warming up eagerly on the touchline and looked like he was about to arrive, but instead Xavi went for Angel Alarcon instead.
Alarcon made his debut as a late substitute and one could only imagine what was going through Torre’s mind as he went back to the bench to watch the game. If he doesn’t play, when Barca are 2-0 up and Pedri and Sergio Busquets are out – what chance does he have?
Xavi said after the game that Torre deserved to play, which only makes his decision not to bring the youngster even more odd. If he won’t play at all, would he surely be better off joining Barca Atletic?