Barcelona must cope without left-back Jordi Alba in their next La Liga fixture after the defender picked up a one-match ban on Tuesday,
Alba was booked for the fifth time this season in the Spanish top-flight in the 3-0 win over Real Valladolid which brings an automatic one-match ban. The left-back must therefore sit out the visit from Eibar to the Camp Nou on December 29.
The news will be a blow to Ronald Koeman as Alba is a key player in his backline. The 31-year-old has also proved to be an effective attacking outlet for the Catalan giants too in 2020-21.
6 – @FCBarcelona's Jordi Alba 🇪🇸 has been directly involved in more goals than any other @LaLigaEN defender this season in all competitions (6, 1 goal and 5 assists). Critical. pic.twitter.com/TA2BRhfjxl
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 16, 2020
Junior Firpo is the most likely player to replace Alba against Eibar. The 24-year-old is Alba’s back-up at the Camp Nou and is now in line to make his first La Liga start of the season next week.
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Barca Bounce Back
Alba’s booking came in an improved performance from Barca at Real Valladolid. Koeman’s men responded well to Saturday’s disappointing draw against Valencia and secured just their second away win of the season in the league.
Koeman raised eyebrows with his team selection, dropping Sergio Busquets, Antoine Griezmann, and Philippe Coutinho to the bench. Clement Lenglet came back into the team as part of the three-man backline, while Miralem Pjanic made just his second start La Liga start since his summer move from Juventus.
The changes to the formation and personnel worked well as Barca secured a comfortable victory. Goals from Lenglet, Martin Braithwaite, and Lionel Messi saw the visitors head home with a deserved three points.
New Formation Set to Stay?
It’s not clear yet if Barca will stick with the new formation. The line-up saw full-backs Alba and Sergino Dest play further up the pitch which center-back Lenglet thought worked well.
The goalscorer offers his thoughts on Koeman’s new system, which also brought a rare away clean sheet, after the match, as reported by AS.
It depends on the game in turns of what the system brings us. Today it worked well. Jordi and Sergino were able to get further forward without having to make long runs back to defend.
We looked good with this system we tried to practice it but there’s not much time between games to train. We have one day to recuperate after games and then it’s the next match.
Barca will be expected to see out 2020 with a win next time out against Eibar.
José Luis Mendilibar’s side are only three points off the bottom of the table and were thumped 5-0 on their last visit to the Camp Nou in La Liga in February.