Barcelona announced mixed news regarding the fitness of injured duo Sergio Busquets and Ronald Araujo ahead of Sunday’s La Liga clash with Osasuna at the Camp Nou.
The two players did take part in Friday’s session as they work their way back to full fitness. Barca confirmed via their official website that Busquets “was part of the group,” but that Araujo was only fit enough to undertake “specific work on the pitch.”
Busquets is now ready to make his return for Barcelona on Sunday, but the game will come too soon for Araujo, according to Angel Perez at Mundo Deportivo. Araujo’s injury means Barca will once again be short of options in defense.
Gerard Pique will miss the game with a knee problem and is expected to be sidelined for at least the next four months. Frenchman Samuel Umtiti is also still on the injured list and unavailable for selection.
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Another Chance for Mingueza?
Barca’s defensive injuries offer the chance for 21-year-old defender Oscar Mingueza to continue in the team. The defender was drafted in for his debut in midweek against Dynamo Kiev and put in a strong showing.
⚽ In #DynamoBarça, Mingueza pulled off a brilliant performance, adding new steps of success to his Blaugrana career.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 25, 2020
Mingueza’s performance also appeared to impress manager Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman offered his thoughts about the youngster after the game and hinted he could enjoy more game time, as reported by Marca.
I think Mingueza has shown that we can count on him. He has to work hard to have minutes but he has been training with us for five or six weeks now and he had given us a good impression. He has delivered. I liked the team.
Mingueza is the latest player to emerge from the club’s famed La Masia academy and told Barca TV after the win he hopes this is the start of something big, as reported by Goal.
I am really, really happy after so many years and everything that I have suffered to play here. It’s a dream to debut in the Champions League for the best club in the world. I spent all week wondering if I would play or not and when I found out I was so happy.
I was a little nervous and I thought of my family, my girlfriend and the people that know what I have suffered and the work behind reaching this point. I hope that this is the start of something big. I played well, we didn’t give much away, the team was switched on when we lost the ball.
The youngster certainly seems to have played his way into contention for Sunday’s match and will be hoping to make his first La Liga start in what is a crucial game for the Catalan giants after defeat to Atletico Madrid last time out in the league.
Rested De Jong Ready to Return
Yet it’s by no means guaranteed that Mingueza will start. Koeman could opt to use midfielder Frenkie de Jong in his backline. The versatile Dutchman should return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek.
The availability of Busquets could also be a factor in where De Jong features on Sunday against Osasuna. If the Spain international were to miss out then De Jong may be needed in midfield to partner Miralem Pjanic.
Koeman does have plenty of options in his squad though. Young midfielder Carles Alena is also available and, like Mingueza, put in a good performance against Dynamo Kiev last time out.
⚠️ ALEÑÁ: #DYNAMOBARÇA PASS MASTER! ⚠️
1️⃣0️⃣6️⃣ Completed passes
1️⃣0️⃣7️⃣ Total passes
9️⃣9️⃣.1️⃣% 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/rGweXYZ80t
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 24, 2020
All of which leaves Koeman with something of a selection headache ahead of an important match at the Camp Nou. The Dutchman’s teamsheet for the game should make for interesting reading.