Ronald Araujo is poised to start over Gerard Pique when FC Barcelona play hosts to Getafe at the Nou Camp on Thursday.
Barcelona’s short-lived dream of breaking away from the UEFA Champions League crumbled into dust in a matter of 48 hours, and although they are yet to withdraw themselves from the proposed European Super League, the focus will shift back to football on Thursday when they take on Getafe.
It is a must-win encounter for the Blaugrana as they look to maintain pressure on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the title race. Ronald Koeman, therefore, is unlikely to make too many alterations from the side that secured the Copa Del Rey title on the weekend.
“There are eight games left, we are going game by game. We really enjoyed the Copa del Rey final, winning and doing it the way we did. Now we have to concentrate again. Tomorrow’s game against Getafe will be complicated,” said Koeman, during his pre-match press conference.
From a tactical perspective, the Dutchman will be hoping to maintain a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3 formation, although he should prefer the former that could see Ousmane Dembele once again starting on the bench, as Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann look to spearhead the Barcelona frontline.
Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig were both left out of Barcelona’s squad against Athletic Bilbao. However, Koeman defended the decision, saying, “Leaving Pjanic, Puig and Junior out to have two goalkeepers on the bench? If in the warm-up, ter Stegen gets injured, I have to put in the second goalkeeper in. If the second goalkeeper gets a red card, I don’t have another goalkeeper. For me it’s too much of a risk.”
Either way, Sergio Busquets is likely to get the nod ahead of these two in the holding midfield role, just behind the two number eights in Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, although the latter is likely to operate further upfront, alongside Messi and Griezmann in the Barcelona attack.
The attackers will receive additional support from the wing-backs, Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba, although they must be aware of Getafe’s counter-attacks and simply cannot afford to leave out too much space in behind the backline.
Speaking of which, there might be one change in the three-man backline for Barcelona this midweek. Gerard Pique, in particular, looked fatigued after being forced into the starting eleven against Bilbao.
“Pique was quite tired after the game he played, which is normal after having been out for so long. I think he was phenomenal in the final. I think we can still improve his physical condition,” Koeman said when asked about the defender’s fitness.
It suggests that the Dutchman could be tempted to rest the veteran centre-back against Getafe, thus paving the way for Ronald Araujo to get back into the side as the youngster looks to renew his defensive partnership alongside Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet, just ahead of goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet; Dest, Pedri, Busquets, de Jong, Alba; Messi, Griezmann