Barcelona will likely have to cope without center-backs Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia for their crucial Champions League fixture against Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, October 20.
Garcia will miss the game through suspension after being sent off in the 3-0 defeat to Benfica last time out in Europe’s top competition, while Araujo has picked up a hamstring injury on international duty with Uruguay.
Barcelona have not yet confirmed how long Araujo will be out for but the central defender has been forced to miss Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil on Thursday.
Diario AS journalist Javi Miguel has reported the injury means Araujo is likely to be out for at least 15 days and will miss Barcelona’s games against Valencia and Dynamo Kiev. The center-back is also a major doubt for El Clasico against Real Madrid on October 24.
The news will be a big blow for coach Ronald Koeman ahead of a what is must-win game for the Catalan giants. Barca have suffered consecutive 3-0 defeats in their opening two matches against Bayern Munich and Benfica to sit bottom of Group E with zero points, leaving the team facing the very real prospect of an exit from the competition.
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Who Will Partner Pique?
Manager Koeman will also have to decide who partners Gerard Pique in central defense against Dynamo Kiev. The Dutchman does have options with Clement Lenglet the most likely option.
The Frenchman has dropped down the pecking order this season at Barcelona and has made only on La Liga start so far in 2021-22. Koeman’s other options are Samuel Umtiti who hasn’t managed a single minute this season, and 22-year-old Oscar Mingueza.
The Barca boss could also opt to use midfielder Frenkie de Jong in defense. Koeman has turned to the Netherlands international as an emergency center-back on several occasions, and while it’s a job he can do well his influence in midfield is missed.
Can Barcelona Qualify For UCL Last-16?
Barcelona’s dismal start to the Champions League group stages has put the Catalans’ chances of qualifying for the last 16 in jeopardy. Former striker Samuel Eto’o has told Marca that failing to make it out of the group would be difficult to accept.
“Recently, Barcelona have made me suffer. These are tough times for those of us who love the club,” he said. “It would be hard to accept group stage elimination in the Champions League. I still hope they can go through.”
Barcelona will hope to take six points from home and away games against Dynamo Kiev to revive their qualification hopes. The two teams met last season in the Champions League with Barca winning 4-0 in Ukraine and 2-1 at the Camp Nou.
Two victories would offer hope ahead of the team’s final two group games at home to Benfica and away to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages.