Ronald Koeman is expected to make changes to his Barcelona midfield for Tuesday’s Champions League group stage game against Hungarian champions Ferencvaros at the Camp Nou.
The Dutch coach has opted for Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong as the double pivot in his 4-2-3-1 formation but plans to switch things around for Barca’s first game back in Europe’s elite competition.
According to Sport’s Jordi Delgado, summer signing Miralem Pjanic is destined to come into the midfield to freshen things up. Koeman also wants to rotate to keep his midfield fresh for Saturday’s Clasico with Real Madrid.
Pjanic is currently third choice behind De Jong and Busquets but is considered to be “essential” for Tuesday’s match. The 30-year-old knows the competition well, from his spells at Lyon, Roma, and Juventus, and should be fresh after sitting out the defeat to Getafe.
The midfielder is the summer signing who has featured least so far this summer, behind Pedri, Francisco Trincao and Sergino Dest, but will finally be given a real chance to stake a claim next time out.
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Pjanic Aiming for UCL Glory
Pjanic has been talking about the Champions League ahead of the competition and his desire to lift the famous European Cup for the first time. The midfielder told Sport’s Javier Giraldo that he also thinks his new team-mates will be keen for revenge after being dumped out in humiliating fashion by Bayern Munich last season.
“This team wants to take revenge for what happened in Lisbon and show that it was a huge accident. Our goal is to go step by step: starting with the league, which will not be easy. And in the Champions League, there will be five or six candidates to win the trophy.
“Starting in March, a new season will begin within the season itself, with the knockout stages of the Champions League and the decisive stretch of the league championship; that’s where we have to be at full throttle.”
The midfielder has yet to make much of an impression at Barcelona since his summer move from Juventus. His arrival was delayed after a positive test for Covid-19, but he now has the chance to stake a claim for a regular place.
Pjanic will surely be hoping he can impress enough to keep his place in the team, particularly as Barca play his former club Juventus in Turin in their second group stage game on October 28.
Busquets or De Jong?
If Koeman does start Pjanic then he will need to drop either Busquets or De Jong to the bench. The Dutch coach’s 4-2-3-1 formation is designed to get the best out of De Jong, but the former Ajax man has not been wholly impressive in 2020-21.
He openly admitted he was “mediocre” in the 1-1 draw against Sevilla and gave away the crucial penalty in Saturday’s surprise defeat to Getafe in La Liga at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Koeman must now decide whether to keep faith with De Jong for Tuesday’s clash or give him a breather and hope he can return fresh and firing for the visit of Los Blancos.