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Does Henry merit a place in Barca’s starting XI?
Thierry Henry is in danger of playing a peripheral role in Pep Guardiola’s new look Barcelona with his continued failure to find his feet in Spain.
The France striker missed Sunday’s 6-1 rout of Sporting Gijon due to a throat infection, and that leaves Guardiola with a tough choice as to whether to keep a team that claimed a first league win of the season, or continue rotating his players for Wednesday’s visit of Real Betis.
The latter is the most likely course of events with a derby against Espanyol coming up at the weekend and a Champions League trip to face Shakhtar Donetsk next week.
But the question remains, should Henry feature in Guardiola’s best starting XI?
Against Sporting, who admittedly are bottom of the table, Barca were outstanding. Their pressuring of opponents when they didn’t have the ball was impressive, and when they did hold possession they were a delight to watch.
Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o are first choices up front, while Andres Iniesta appears to have filled the space on the left vacated by Ronaldinho with aplomb, creating and scoring goals. Iniesta’s versatility means he can play in a variety of positions, but he will always play.
With Xavi and a holding player like Yaya Toure or Seydou Keita almost guaranteed places, Henry is in effect competing with one of the youth team products Guardiola seems keen to blood in the side.
Winger Pedro Rodriguez and midfielder Sergio Busquets have won over the home fans, something Henry has yet to achieve after a year in Barcelona. Aleksandr Hleb’s injury means his former Arsenal team mate doesn’t enter the equation just yet.
Is Henry simply going to be first-change striker behind Eto’o, competing with another fan favourite Bojan Krkic? It’s looking that way.