Sergio Busquets will return, but Gavi will be unavailable for Barcelona for the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Barcelona will aim to seal a safe passage through to the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 when they lock horns with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday night. And Xavi has some pressing concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Gavi is the latest absentee, with the youngster serving a suspension after accumulating too many yellow cards. The teenage sensation has joined Pedri and Ousmane Dembele on the sidelines. The duo is recovering from respective hamstring injuries.

But Sergio Busquets is fit and available, with the Barcelona captain in the travelling squad. But Xavi did not speak about Busquets during his pre-match press conference. Instead, he said that his team can cope in the absence of Pedri and Gavi.

Xavi said, “We’re missing Pedri and Gavi, but I would highlight the absence of Dembele for everything he gives us. Pedri gives us rhythm, Gavi gives us the intensity that would be necessary tomorrow. There are alternatives to compensate for Pedri and Gavi’s absences, we have to bring order, intensity.

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Xavi also suggested he knows his starting lineup without revealing anything. He added, “It could go to extra time or penalties, our idea won’t change much. We want to be attacking and if we can play in their half, much better. I want them to feel uncomfortable and we have to play with intensity and passion. They showed at Camp Nou they’re a great side.”

Busquets will return to the starting lineup, sitting at the base of the midfield unit. So Frenkie de Jong will have more freedom to express himself in more advanced positions. And Franck Kessie will complete the numbers in the middle of the park.

In Gavi’s absence, Ferran Torres will start on the left flank, with Raphinha returning to the right wing. So Ansu Fati will drop to the bench. Meanwhile, there is no looking past Robert Lewandowski as the central striker for the visitors.

As for the defensive unit, Xavi might make wholesale changes, with only Jules Kounde retaining his spot. Ronald Araujo and Marcos Alonso should return as the centre-backs, while Jordi Alba will replace Alejandro Balde. Finally, Marc-Andre ter Stegen picks himself between the sticks.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Alonso, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Torres

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