Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong will return when Barcelona take on Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday.
Barcelona will be hoping to take a step closer to the Copa del Rey final when they lock horns with Sevilla in the semi-final first leg at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night. And, Ronald Koeman has a fresh injury concern to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Ronald Araujo sustained an ankle injury early in the game against Real Betis in La Liga this past weekend and has been ruled out of the Copa del Rey clash. The Uruguayan has been omitted from the travelling squad to take on Sevilla, with six other players unavailable as well. These are namely Gerard Pique, Sergino Dest, Sergi Roberto, Miralem Pjanic, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati.
During his pre-match press conference, Koeman spoke about Araujo and his potential return date as well as possible replacements in Samuel Umtiti and Frenkie de Jong. The Barcelona boss said, “We do not rule it out, but we have to wait to see how he recovers from his injury. We won’t set a date. We will take the freshest players and play match by match.”
“Physically, he [Umtiti] is well and has options to play. Considering his past, we are always aware of his physical condition and we have to think about it. But he has shown his quality as a CB in the games he has played. If we put Frenkie as a CB, we will lack something in midfield, but we have to decide. If we can, we will use a CB who is used to playing there.”
Judging by Koeman’s comments, it looks like Umtiti is set to accompany Clement Lenglet at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Oscar Mingueza becoming a certainty in the right-back berth in the absence of Dest and Roberto. On the opposite flank, Jordi Alba picks himself while Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the obvious choice in goal, seeing as Koeman will likely name his strongest side.
With de Jong unlikely to be used as a centre-back, he will return in midfield, with Sergio Busquets and Pedri being his partners in the middle of the park. That means Riqui Puig misses out and will likely be an option on the bench.
Finally, in attack, the big change will see Lionel Messi come in for Martin Braithwaite. Messi will occupy the central striker’s berth, with Antoine Griezmann moving to the left side of the Barcelona attack against Sevilla. The final spot in the side will likely be handed to Ousmane Dembele.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Lenglet, Umtiti, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Messi, Griezmann