Koeman Makes Key Decision on Messi, Ter Stegen & Coutinho

Ter Stegen and Lionel Messi


Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will all sit out Wednesday’s Champions League group game against Ferencvaros in Hungary.

Coach Ronald Koeman has opted to give all three players a rest for the match as qualification to the knockout stages is already assured and because Barca are in the middle of a hectic schedule.

Messi was also rested for Barcelona’s last Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev along with midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The Catalan giants ran out 4-0 winners without the duo to maintain their 100% record in the competition after four games.

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Defensive Injury Problems Clearing

Koeman has received some good news ahead of the game with defenders Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet both taking part in the final training session before the match.

Araujo has been out since injuring a hamstring in the win over Juventus in October, while Lenglet hobbled out of Barcelona’s 4-0 La Liga win over Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Koeman is already without defenders Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, and Sergi Roberto due to injury, meaning the return to fitness of the two players will come as something of a relief.

Lenglet has been included in the squad but the Dutchman may be reluctant to risk the Frenchman for a game that means little to Barcelona given their healthy position at the top of the group.

Barcelona B’s Oscar Mingueza has been called into the first team due to the recent injury crisis and could keep his place, while midfielder Frenkie de Jong is also an option to play in central defense.

Game Time for Youngsters?

Mingueza is not the only Barcelona youngster who will be hoping for precious first-team game time against Ferencvaros. The 21-year-old’s Barcelona B team-mates US winger Konrad de la Fuente and goalkeepers Arnau Tenas and Inaki Pena are also included in the squad.

Ter Stegen’s back-up Neto is the most likely option to start in goal, but Tenas will be available as back-up if required. Konrad made his Champions League debut last time out as a substitute against Dynamo Kiev and will be hoping for more game time after impressing at the weekend.

Youngsters Riqui Puig, Carles Alena, and Francisco Trincao will also be eyeing starts, along with fringe players such as Martin Braithwaite and Junior Firpo. Braithwaite has forced his way into the team for the last two matches and scored three times.

Midfielder Miralem Pjanic is another player likely to be included in Koeman’s starting XI for Wednesday’s match. The 30-year-old has started all four Champions League matches for Barca so far but only once in La Liga since his summer move from Juventus.

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