The two stars are both on four bookings in the league in 2020-21 and one more comes with a ban for yellow card accumulation. If either player goes into the referee’s notebook against Osasuna they would be ruled out of Barca’s next league game against Huesca at the Camp Nou on Monday, March 15.
Huesca is currently bottom of the table, which means that coach Ronald Koeman may not be too disappointed if either were to miss the match and see their disciplinary slate wiped clean, particularly as Barca’s next league game is a tricky trip to fifth-placed Real Sociedad.
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Barcelona Squad Named
Both Messi and De Jong are in Koeman’s squad for the trip to Osasuna. The Dutchman has named 21 players in his matchday squad but is without center-backs Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo due to injury.
The duo join Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho on the club’s injured list, although midfielder Miralem Pjanic has been passed fit after recovering from an ankle problem.
A win for Barcelona would see the Catalan giants cut the gap to leaders Atletico Madrid to two points. The Rojiblancos then play city rivals Real Madrid on Sunday at the Wanda Metropolitano. On Friday, Koeman spoke about the importance of the fixture before the match.
“It’s true that it’s a really important game because we know that Atletico play Real Madrid on Sunday and one of those two clubs or both will drop some points,” Koeman told reporters during his pregame press conference. “So tomorrow we will try to win a difficult game away from home. Once again we have to be prepared. … We must focus on our game and we have to beat Osasuna. Then, the best result is probably for the leaders to drop points but we can’t be obsessed with that game because if we don’t win then it doesn’t matter.”
Barca heads into the match with morale high after beating Sevilla 3-0 on Wednesday to secure a place in the Copa del Rey final. Yet the Catalan giants were forced to play extra-time and may just have one eye on next week’s Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain, too.
Koeman Talks Defensive Improvements
The loss of Pique and Araujo to injury will be a blow to Barcelona who have improved defensively in recent weeks. Koeman’s side have kept clean sheets in their last three matches and the boss has attempted to explain how his club has tightened up on the back end.
“I think that we haven’t made many mistakes and the team has been able to press well up front and, of course, in some stages of a game when you play with three center-backs we have more security,” Koeman said on Friday. “We have also been improving at set-pieces, so it’s not just the system, there are other aspects. It’s important to keep clean sheets.”
The Dutchman has employed three center-backs in Barca’s last two games which has worked well and brought impressive victories against Sevilla in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. However, it remains to be seen if Koeman will stick with that system against Osasuna or switch things around as he will be without two key defenders in Pique and Araujo.