Ronald Koeman will have to deal with the absence of some key players when Barcelona lock horns with Juventus on Tuesday.
Barcelona will be hoping to finish their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with a hundred percent winning record when they face Juventus at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The Spanish giants were the triumphant side when these two teams met in the reverse fixture. This time, however, things could be complicated as Ronald Koeman looks to deal with the absence of some key players heading into this game.
During the pre-match press conference, the Dutchman voiced his disappointment over the recent injury of Ousmane Dembele, who joins Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti on the sidelines.
“It’s a big shame to lose another player to injury. He felt something in the second half but he thought it was nothing and continued playing. It is a pity, he’ll be out for a little while. It’s a step backwards, he was doing well and we know his past with injuries so now he needs to recover and come back well,” Koeman told the press.
However, the ex-Southampton boss also suggested he wants to “put together a strong team” because Barcelona “want to finish top of the group”. So we can expect Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann to both start on Tuesday, with the latter likely to get the nod ahead of the in-form Martin Braithwaite in the false nine role.
Lionel Messi should operate in the number ten role, though he could join Griezmann in a situational 4-4-2 that should see Coutinho and Pedri drop deeper and act as wider midfielders.
In midfield, Koeman might be tempted to start former Juventus man Miralem Pjanic alongside Frenkie de Jong. They are the better options when it comes to dealing with box to box and dynamic midfielders like Adrien Rabiot or Rodrigo Bentancur.
Meanwhile, in defence, the absence of both Pique and Umtiti should pave the way for Ronald Araujo to form the central defensive partnership alongside Clement Lenglet. These two will brace themselves for a difficult evening in dealing with the threat of ex-Real Madrid attacking pair of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata.
Sergino Dest is a surefire starter at right-back, not at the least helped by the absence of Roberto while Jordi Alba should continue on the opposite flank as well. They could be forced to provide assistance to the central defenders without the ball as they collectively look to provide cover for Marc Andre ter Stegen in goal.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, de Jong; Pedri, Messi, Coutinho; Griezmann