Key Battles: Malaysia XI vs Barcelona

Goal analyses the upcoming clash between Malaysia XI and Barcelona to bring you the key battles that will take place this Saturday
The national centreback's performance has been on a resurgence in the last stretch of the Malaysian Super League for Johor Darul Takzim, and except for the red card incurred in their draw against LionsXII, Aidil Zafuan's perforrmance for his club has rightfully earned him his place in the national team.

Unfortunately for Aidil, in this match he will go up against Goal's Player of the Year Lionel Messi, which means that his recent domestic resurgence may just amount to nothing. Messi last scored two goals against the Thailand XI, one against Santos, without going into full gear, and even the most optimistic of Malaysia fans might be hesitant to bet against Messi scoring against the Tigers. It may simply be a question of how many goals, and that is before bringing their summer signing Neymar into the equation.

The meteoric rise of Junior Eldstal has been nothing short of astounding. An outsider to Malaysian football just a little over four months ago, he has since made himself a key member of the invincible Premier League champions Sarawak, and has been trusted by K. Rajagobal to don the famous black and yellow stripes of the Tigers against Chelsea. With the usual suspects of the squad's midfield currently undergoing a slump, now is the perfect time for the Swedish-Malaysian 21-year-old to wrestle a permanent spot in the heart of the team away from his disappointing seniors.

No adjectives will sound exaggerated when used to describe the Catalans. But better save some of those superlatives to describe their experienced and prolific midfielder Xavi Hernandez. Fans on these shores have not lacked the annual opportunity to see their favourite European football stars, but to see one of the true masters of midfield in action is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The fans will definitely be hoping that their home side will put up a stern fight, if only to see Xavi launch near impossible inch-perfect passes into the Malaysian penalty box to overcome them, like he does week in and week out in the La Liga.

It says a lot of the Malaysian team when their best forward; last scored in a Malaysian shirt last December. But judging by his most recent performance against Chonburi FC and Chelsea, there is undoubtedly more spring in his step, and more purpose to his runs, that makes him still the top choice for Rajagobal. However, the question of whether he can pose any sort of threat to the Catalans is ultimately down to whether the Malaysia midfield can shore up both the defence and supply the ball forward to him and his eventual partner.

Going up against unfancied opponents means that centreback Pique will have little to do, and it will be a treat to Barca fans in the country to see him go up to try and nick a goal or two from set-pieces. With their defence joining in the attacks, Barcelona will perhaps simply overwhelm the Malaysians, and that will be a sight to see. This is the same team that just last week, trounced Brazilian champions Santos 8-0, after all.