Barcelona’s preparations for Saturday’s La Liga clash with Granada at Los Carmenes suffered a blow when defender Ronald Araujo suffered an injury in the warm-up and was forced to miss the game.
The Uruguay international was named in the starting XI for the match but did not take to the pitch after picking up a leg injury and had to be replaced by France international Samuel Umtiti.
It’s Umtiti’s first start of the season for Barcelona after recovering from knee trouble. The center-back has made three substitute appearances with his last outing coming in the 3-0 win over Real Valladolid in December.
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Changes in Defense for Barcelona
Ronald Koeman had only made one change to his initial starting XI for the game. The Barca boss had opted to bring in 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza to replace the suspended Clement Lenglet.
The Dutchman spoke about how he was going to replace the Frenchman in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Umtiti has been out of action for a long time. He’s had to overcome injuries, it’s been a long way back. He needs to play, he’s had some minutes and we have to decide because Lenglet won’t be there. We also have Mingueza who has played there. It’s a decision we are going to make after this afternoon’s training session.
Yet Araujo’s injury meant that Koeman had to draft in Umtiti too and field a new-look defense at Los Carmenes. The absence of Araujo and Lenglet also leaves Barca short of options from the bench.
Koeman could turn to Frenkie de Jong should Umtiti or Mingueza need replacing during the 90 minutes. The Netherlands midfielder has already filled in at center-back on several occasions for Barcelona already this season. It’s a role De Jong knows well from his time with Ajax and the Netherlands national team.
Griezmann Starts Again
Further forward Koeman opted to stick with the same players who enjoyed an impressive win over Athletic last time out in La Liga. Midfielder Sergio Busquets took to the field and hit a major milestone in his Barcelona career.
The Spain international started with De Jong and 18-year-old Pedri in midfield, while captain Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele continued in the Barcelona attack.
Griezmann is without a goal in his last seven matches for Barcelona but did pick up an assist at San Mames after teeing up Messi for the team’s third goal of the night.
Meanwhile, Dembele is making his third consecutive start for Barcelona after returning from injury. The Frenchman has been plagued by injury throughout his time at the Camp Nou but is making his 16th outing already in 2020-21.