Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is without a raft of players due to injury for the first leg of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla.
Miralem Pjanic, Martin Braithwaite, and Sergino Dest have joined Ronald Araujo on the injured list and miss the trip to the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. Koeman was already without injured quartet Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, Philippe Coutinho, and Sergi Roberto.
Barcelona offered an update on the trio’s physical problem on the club’s official website but stopped short of confirming how long the three players are expected to be out of action. Dest has a “right thigh problem,” Pjanic has “pain his left foot,” and Braithwaite “has a hamstring problem.”
The injury situation means that Barcelona B youngsters Alex Collado, Ilaix Moriba, and goalkeeper Inaki Pena have all been called up to the first-team squad for the trip to Seville.
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Koeman Talks Injury Problems
Koeman spoke about his team’s injury problems during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday ahead of the game with Sevilla. The Dutch coach said he will not take risks with any players who are struggling physically.
Some of my players physically are not 100 percent and I want to take the ones who are. I don’t want to run any more risks. We know we have a lot of players out but that’s the situation and there’s no other solution.
Center-back Ronald Araujo is reportedly willing to take a risk with his sprained ankle and play against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in a week’s time. Koeman was asked about the Uruguay international’s fitness but was coy about when he might return.
He will be out for a little while. We have to wait and see how he recovers and whether he can train or not. I’m not going to put a date on it. We have to take the freshest players and take it game by game.
Araujo’s injury leaves Barca short of options in defense, although Barca could have Dest back soon. Koeman explained the right-back could make his comeback after a leg injury soon.
Sergino has trained but still has some pain in his leg. We have left him out for tomorrow and told him he has to be 100 per cent to come back into the squad. That could be Saturday or if not most probably for the game against PSG.
Barca’s defensive injuries mean 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza looks set to continue at right-back against Sevilla. Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and midfielder Frenkie de Jong are Koeman’s options in central defense.
Sevilla vs Barcelona
Wednesday’s game sees two in-form teams collide in what promises to be an intriguing tie over two legs. Sevilla are just a point behind Barcelona in the table and head into the match on the back of seven straight wins.
Koeman offered his thoughts on Lopetegui’s side and how his team can break down the second-best defense in La Liga.
It depends on us. They’ve got a very physical team, a very well-organized team, and they have great individual talent which is why they are so high in the league table and in the semi-finals. I think they have one of the most complete teams in the competition so we need to try and get out of their press, because they will press us a lot. When we have the ball we need to be at our best and then we can hurt them.
Yet Barcelona are also on a great run of form. Sunday’s comeback win over Real Betis made it 11 games unbeaten in La Liga for Koeman’s men and was the team’s sixth consecutive victory.