Barcelona has been hit with a huge blow ahead of their Champions League clash with Juventus against Turin as they will have to cope without key center-back Gerard Pique.
The defender was shown a straight red card in Tuesday’s match with Ferencvaros after hauling back Tokmac Nguen, meaning the 33-year-old will be suspended for the trip to the Serie A champions.
It’s a big blow for Barcelona as Pique is a key player in defense. He is likely to be replaced by 21-year-old Uruguay international Ronald Araujo. The youngster has featured in La Liga for Barca this season but has yet to make his Champions League debut.
The dismissal did not seem to affect Barcelona too match against Ferencvaros, although Ihor Kharatin did score from the resulting penalty. Yet Ronald Koeman’s side went on to win 5-1 against the Hungarian champions despite playing the last 20 minutes of the match with 10 men.
Goals from Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were enough to seal a comprehensive victory for Ronald Koeman’s side.
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Barca and Juve Eye Top Spot in Group G
The game between Barcelona and Juventus is likely to help decide which team finishes top of the pile in Champions League Group G. Both teams will be expected to progress, but the group winner often receives a more favorable draw in the knockout stages.
The Serie A giants won their first group game on Tuesday, beating Dynamo Kiev 2-0 in Ukraine. Summer signing Alvaro Morata scored both goals for the visitors to get their campaign off to a fine start.
Yet Juventus has not started their domestic campaign quite as strongly. Andrea Pirlo’s side has drawn two and won two of their opening four games. The Turin giants take on Verona on Sunday before hosting Barcelona.
Ronaldo To Miss Clasico?
Juventus will also have home advantage for the visit of Barca which may help their cause but could be without key man Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal international has tested positive for Covid-19 and it’s not clear if he will be fit in time.
Ronaldo would be a big miss given he’s started the season in typically prolific form. The 35-year-old has three goals in two league appearances so far in 2020-21 and would surely have relished taking on Barcelona again.
The Portugal international enjoyed a long rivalry with Barcelona during his time at former club Real Madrid. Ronaldo spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu winning countless trophies before joining Juventus in 2018.
However, the Italian side still possesses plenty of attacking talent even if Ronaldo is unavailable for the fixture with players such as Morata, Paulo Dybala, Federico Chiesa, Federico Bernadeschi, and Douglas Costa in the squad.