Barcelona Fans Shocked By Koeman’s Riqui Puig Decision

Riqui Puig

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Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has made plenty of changes to his starting XI for Tuesday’s Champions League group match against Dynamo Kiev but still hasn’t found room for midfielder Riqui Puig.

The talented 21-year-old has managed just 3 minutes of action for Barcelona this season but has been forced to settle for a place on the bench for the game in Kiev despite his team being without several key players due to injury.

Koeman had already opted to rest Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong for the trip to Ukraine, while Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Sergio Roberto, Ronald Araujo, Samuel Umtiti, and Ansu Fati are all on the injured list.

Yet Puig still hasn’t made it into the starting XI with Carles Alena coming into the team to partner Miralem Pjanic in Koeman’s double pivot system in midfield. The decision to once again overlook Puig hasn’t gone down well with supporters.

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Captain Ter Stegen

The absence of captain Messi and his deputies Pique, Roberto, and Busquets means that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been handed the captain’s armband for Tuesday’s group game.

Ter Stegen will be out to impress after being guilty of a poor error against Atletico Madrid last time out in La Liga. The Germany international came flying out of his goal, allowing Yannick Carrasco to go past him and score the only goal of the game.

The goalkeeper does have an inexperienced backline ahead of him. Barca B defender Oscar Mingueza makes his senior debut alongside Clement Lenglet in central defense, while Junior Firpo starts for the first time this season at left-back with Jordi Alba dropping to the bench.

USMNT starlet Sergino Dest takes over from Roberto at right-back in what is his fifth start of the season for Barca since his arrival from Ajax in the summer transfer window.


Chances for Braithwaite and Alena to Shine

Koeman’s changes will allow some of Barcelona’s fringe players to shine, particularly striker Martin Braithwaite and Alena. The duo may be playing for their futures with the club willing to sell both in the January transfer window, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Braithwaite has only scored once for Barcelona since arriving on an emergency transfer in February from Leganes. The Denmark international has made 6 appearances for the Catalan giants this season, but Tuesday’s match is his first start of 2020-21.

Alena is also making his first start of the season. The midfielder has only managed 7 minutes of action for Barca in the current campaign but has the chance to shine in the absence of Busquets and De Jong.

Koeman has opted to make so many changes to his team as Barca are currently in the midst of a hectic fixture list. The club are also in great shape in the group having won all three matches so far.

Another victory on Tuesday against Dynamo Kiev would send the Catalan giants into the knockout stages of the tournament with two games to spare, allowing Koeman to rotate again in their final two matches against Ferencvaros and Juventus.

READ NEXT: Griezmann Reveals What Messi Told Him When He Joined Barca


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