Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba are set to return to the starting XI while Ousmane Dembele should also feature when Barcelona take on Huesca on Sunday.
Barcelona will be aiming to get back to winning ways in the 2020/21 La Liga when they face off against newly-promoted SD Huesca at Estadio El Alcoraz on Sunday night. And ahead of the game, manager Ronald Koeman has greeted mixed news on the injury front.
The Barcelona manager is set to welcome back captain Lionel Messi after the Argentine missed the game against Eibar due to an ankle issue. However, Philippe Coutinho is ruled out due to a knee injury he picked up in the last game and has had to undergo surgery.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 2, 2021
Speaking about the Brazilian in his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Koeman said, “It’s bad luck. We have several players with injuries who will be out for quite some time. For me Philippe has always been important, now he has to recover. It is a significant loss. We have to see how we can solve his loss.”
Along with Coutinho, Barcelona will also be without Samuel Umtiti, who misses out due to a stomach bug, while Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto are all unavailable as well. The Catalans can also call upon first-choice left-back Jordi Alba after he missed the last game due to suspension.
Alba should walk right back into the lineup replacing Junior Firpo, who did quite well against Eibar. After having set his team up in a three-man defence in the last couple of matches, Koeman is expected to revert to a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Sergino Dest, Ronaldo Araujo and Clement Lenglet completing the backline in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Miralem Pjanic has been preferred over Sergio Busquets in the last two matches by Koeman and that trend is likely to continue on Sunday when Barcelona visit Huesca. Partnering the Bosnian should be Frenkie de Jong, who has been an ever-present in the lineup this term.
Ousmane Dembele put on a fine performance after coming on from the bench against Eibar and should be rewarded with a start on the right flank while Pedri, who has impressed so far this term, should feature on the left side. The duo should flank the returning Lionel Messi, who will be the man to make Barcelona tick in the final third.
“Leo is fine. He was training on the 30th and 31st when the rest of the squad was resting so there are no doubts for him. He doesn’t have any discomfort. He is ready, happy and motivated and that’s important for us,” Koeman said in his pre-match presser.
Messi will have an important role to play if Barcelona need to return to winning ways. But Antoine Griezmann, who is likely to get the nod as the centre-forward, also needs to step up after an underwhelming display against Eibar last time out.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, de Jong; Dembele, Messi, Pedri, Griezmann