Ronald Koeman could ring in a couple of changes, with Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong set to return when Barcelona play Real Valladolid on Tuesday.
Barcelona face Real Valladolid on Tuesday night in a vital La Liga encounter as they look to maintain pressure on arch-rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
The Blaugrana are coming on the back of a disappointing draw with Valencia on the weekend, so one could expect Ronald Koeman to ring in a few changes. The biggest boost for the visitors heading into this game is the return of Ousmane Dembele, who is back in training.
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s game against Valladolid might come a bit too soon for the Frenchman. as confirmed during the pre-match press conference. “It is still early for Ousmane Dembélé because he only did part of the training session with the team. He is missing a few training sessions, and will surely be available for the match against Eibar,” said the Barcelona manager.
Dembele’s lack of fitness should pave the way for both Pedri and Antoine Griezmann to retain their places in the starting lineup. These two players are expected to form the creative trifecta for Barcelona, alongside Lionel Messi, who is poised to break Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club this midweek. The attack, however, should be led by Martin Brathwaite.
There could be just one slight alteration in the midfield unit, where Frenkie de Jong is pushing for a start. The Dutchman wasn’t fully fit to start against Valencia. But, he wound up making a substitute appearance and should replace Philippe Coutinho in the starting lineup against Valladolid, thereby renewing his partnership with Sergio Busquets in the double-pivot.
Koeman has heaped praise on Ronald Araujo following his impressive performances for the senior side this season. “I know the number 4 weighs a lot here, but it’s not weighing on him because he’s being brave, physically strong and he’s playing well. He has to improve a lot of things and hopefully he will continue with the number 4,” the Dutchman said when asked about the young centre-back, who remains a surefire starter in central defence.
Last time out, it was Oscar Mingueza who partnered Araujo at the heart of the Barcelona defence. However, Koeman could be tempted to make a rotation this time around by recalling Clement Lenglet while Gerard Pique remains on the sidelines.
The Barcelona manager also does not have too many options elsewhere in defence so both Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba are also likely to retain their places in the full-back positions, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen starting in goal.
Liverpool Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, de Jong; Pedri, Messi, Griezmann; Brathwaite