Lionel Messi has been rested, but Miralem Pjanic and Ousmane Dembele will return when Barcelona face Ferencvaros in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
Barcelona will aim to continue the perfect start to their UEFA Champions League campaign when they lock horns with Ferencvaros at the Puskas Arena on Wednesday night. And, Ronald Koeman has a few pressing issues to deal with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
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The likes of Gerard Pique (knee), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Ronald Araujo (match fitness), Samuel Umtiti (match fitness) and Ansu Fati (knee) all remain on the sidelines. In addition, Barcelona also travel to Budapest without Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi, who have all been excluded from the travelling squad to get some rest.
Youngsters Konrad de la Fuente and Arnau Tenas are a part of the squad to face Ferencvaros and will hope to get some minutes on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in his pre-match press conference, Koeman addressed the subject of the youngsters getting their opportunities in such fixtures.
The Barcelona boss said, “You have to give the youngsters a chance. If you can’t improve the team with signings, then it’s all about the youth players. I’ve watched them train and there are some quality players and they’re all used to playing under pressure. And they have great players around them. So you have to trust in them and give them chances whenever you can.”
Oscar Mingueza is one such youngster who has impressed since his debut last week and should line up at the heart of the Barcelona defence again. Here, he will provide company to Clement Lenglet, who has recovered from a minor ankle injury and should be given a half.
Out wide, Sergino Dest and Junior Firpo ought to be the full-back pairing, with Jordi Alba getting a rest himself. In goal, Neto is the obvious choice in the absence of ter Stegen. Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong is likely to get a bit of a breather before he replaces Lenglet in the second half.
So, in de Jong’s stead in midfield, Miralem Pjanic should be the conductor of play, with Carles Alena starting alongside him in the double pivot. In front of Pjanic and Alena, Pedri is likely to reprise the no. 10 role, with Antoine Griezmann another candidate to be provided a breather.
Koeman was also quizzed about Messi’s absence during his presser and the Barcelona manager said, “Messi doesn’t usually get rested but there are going to be times this season when he does, like against Kiev and tomorrow.”
“Already being qualified is the main reason I’ve decided not to use him against Ferencvaros. I also want to give chances to the younger players and the next league game is very important and tomorrow is the last chance for Messi to get some rest.”
In Messi’s absence, Francisco Trincao will occupy with the right-wing slot, with Ousmane Dembele coming in on the left. Dembele and Trincao will flank Martin Braithwaite, who has been in fine touch lately and will lead the line for Barcelona against Ferencvaros.
Barcelona Predicted XI: Neto; Dest, Mingueza, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, Alena; Trincao, Pedri, Dembele; Braithwaite.