Out of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, only the Europa League and La Liga remain for the Blaugrana this season. Obviously finishing top four in Spain is the most important job for Xavi over the next few months, with any success in the Europa League being a consolation prize. Yes, winning the Europa League would also guarantee a spot in next season’s Champions League, but the odds of grabbing that spot with a top four finish in La Liga are a lot more likely.

When it comes to the Europa League, Xavi will still be looking to get results, but he won’t have his full complement of bodies. Due to the club signing four players in January for the very first time and only three being eligible for registration in the Europa League, one of Dani Alves, Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, or Adama Traore was going to miss out.

38-year-old Alves was the sacrificial lamb, and the reasoning may be more simple than one might think. He may be a legend of the game, but it’s asking a lot of a man his age to play at a high level twice in the same week. With Xavi’s desire to play with three at the back, Ronald Araujo’s appearances at right-back under the new boss, and the minutes that Sergiño Dest can provide, the Blaugrana should be able to manage without Alves.

The more curious notes of the squad release are as follows:

Dan Hilton is an American journalist, broadcaster, and current Editor-in-Chief of BarcaBlog. Extensive work as a play-by-play broadcaster, producer behind the scenes, and quite average player in his younger years has given him a well-rounded and informative perspective on the sport. Alongside BarcaBlog founder Francesc, Dan started The Barcelona Podcast in 2017