Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman received a fitness boost ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Cadiz. Center-back Ronald Araujo has been passed fit after hamstring trouble and been named in the 21-man squad.
The Uruguay international’s return will strengthen a backline that has by decimated by injuries in recent weeks. Gerard Pique is currently sidelined with a knee injury and not expected back for several months, while Samuel Umtiti is still on the injured list and has not played since June.
Barca’s injuries have allowed 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza a run in the team. The youngster has featured in Barca’s last three matches during which the team has not conceded a single goal.
Koeman must decide whether to keep Mingueza in his starting XI alongside Clement Lenglet or to give Araujo his first outing since October’s Champions League win over Juventus.
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Koeman Offers Update on Defenders
Koeman offered an update on his defenders in his pre-match news conference ahead of Barca’s trip to Cadiz. The Dutch coach refused to say whether Araujo would start and also offered an update on Umtiti’s progress.
Araujo has been out for a while, he has options to play, but I have to decide when. There are more games ahead. Umtiti is very close to coming back. He played 60 minutes in a friendly game with the B team. He’s not had any problems, so he’s there. We have to look at options, make decisions. I don’t know when, but could be in the squad soon.
The Dutch coach was also asked about the possibility of signing a defender when the January transfer window reopens. The club has been linked with a move for Manchester City’s Eric Garcia but Koeman refused to discuss the speculation.
It’s too soon to talk about the transfer window. We are still recovering players and we need to wait until January and see the situation at that time. We will have a new president and we need to talk to him about what to do in the future. It all depends on the economic situation and whether it’s possible or not.
Barcelona may wait until the end of the season to land Garcia because of their financial situation and also due to the fact the defender will be a free agent in the summer when his contract expires. According to Sport, Koeman is also tempted not to sign a defender in January after being impressed with Mingueza’s performances.
Cadiz Up Next For Barcelona
Koeman also spoke about the challenge of facing Cadiz next. The newly-promoted side have already shocked Real Madrid this season with a 1-0 win away from home. The Barca boss has urged his team to be patient against Álvaro Cervera’s side.
Normally we will have a lot of ball against a defense like that of Cádiz, we will have to be patient, it seems that it is difficult for them to win more at home, but they are doing good results, and it is a complicated match in which we must be focused to play at our level.
Cadiz head into the match a point and a place better off than Barcelona in the league table. Yet Cervera’s men are still looking for their first home win in La Liga in 2020-21 and are on a run of three games without a victory.