Lamine Yamal Substitution: Analysis of Xavi’s Decision in Barcelona-PSG, per Expert

It’s been a few days since Paris Saint-Germain eliminated FC Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League. As a result, various opinions and analyses are coming through, with one focusing on manager Xavi Hernandez‘s handling of playing with ten men.

Despite initially trailing 1-0, PSG received a boost when Ronald Araújo was sent off with a red card after a foul on Bradley Barcola. As a result, Xavi needed to modify his squad and adapt to the situation. 

The move that Xavi decided to make was to take off Lamine Yamal, who had a hand in orchestrating the first goal of the match. Nonetheless, CBS Sports‘ Jonathan Johnson believes that removing the player who was giving PSG headaches wasn’t the right call.

“When they went down to ten men, it’s really easy to look back on a decision like this and say it wasn’t the right decision,” Johnson told PSG Talk. “Obviously, Lamine Yamal had given PSG many, many problems in the time that he was on the pitch over the two legs, and it made Nuno Mendes’ life a bit easier. Obviously, he was caught out a little bit with the opening goal. 

“So, for him to see his nemesis taken out of the game was obviously a big help. And you could maybe make a case for Xavi not making the right call at the right time in terms of taking him out. But, at the same time, in those situations, you’ve got to sacrifice somebody, especially when you lose a defender. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes, when you lose a midfielder, you might be able to rejig the team without making an immediate substitution. 

“But unfortunately, when it’s in as critical a position as the defense and you’ve got a two-goal lead that you need to take, I can see the logic in taking out an attacking player. Just in Xavi’s shoes, maybe I wouldn’t have taken off Yamal. Maybe I would have taken off somebody else.”

Hindsight is always 20/20, and it was a major decision that Xavi needed to make to compensate for losing a defender. Perhaps the Spanish tactician felt he needed the experience of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha in this situation. Still, the decision didn’t work out, and it’s left to be a what-if in the minds of Barcelona supporters. 

Tags Barcelona Champions League Lamine Yamal Xavi Hernandez
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