Ronald Koeman is ready to shake up his Barcelona team for Wednesday’s crunch Champions League fixture against Serie A champions Juventus in Turin.
The Catalan giants have lost their last two La Liga games, to Getafe and Real Madrid, and Koeman is now poised to make changes to his starting XI in a bid to get the team back on track.
Koeman is already without the suspended Gerard Pique and the injured Philippe Coutinho but will also rest Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, according to Sport.
Alba returned from injury against Real Madrid but won’t be risked against Juve, meaning Sergino Dest will revert to left-back. Sergi Roberto will then return on the right side of the defense. Ronald Araujo will take Pique’s place at center-back alongside Clement Lenglet.
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Pjanic to Face Former Team
Summer signing Miralem Pjanic is also being tipped to make just his second Barcelona start against his former team. The 30-year-old will replace Busquets who came in for criticism from fans after a poor display against Real Madrid.
This is the worst game I've ever seen Busquets play
— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) October 24, 2020
Another poor pass from Busquets to release RM on the counrer. Get him off.
— kevinwilliams (@kevvwill) October 24, 2020
Busquets has been awful, it has to be said.
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) October 24, 2020
Pjanic is expected to play alongside Frenkie de Jong in the double pivot in midfield, while there will also be changes further forward. Antoine Griezmann is expected to replace the injured Coutinho after starting the last two Barcelona games on the bench.
One Place Left Up For Grabs
All of which means there is just one more place left up for grabs in attack alongside Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati. Youngsters Pedri and Francisco Trincao are in contention alongside Ousmane Dembele.
Pedri was the surprise starter in El Clasico and seems to have impressed Koeman after his summer move from Las Palmas. Yet the midfielder is still only 17 and his game time will need to be monitored carefully in his debut season at the Camp Nou.
Trincao and Dembele are both options out wide and are both known for their pace, penetration, and dribbling ability. Dembele scored and assisted on his last Champions League appearance against Ferencvaros after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Ronaldo to Miss Clash?
Juventus may also be without some key men for Wednesday’s clash, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo. The 35-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Portugal
Center-backs Leonardo Bonucci, Matthijs De Ligt, and Giorgio Chiellini are also doubts for the match because of injury, according to Sport. The Italian champions will train again on Tuesday morning before the match.
Juventus is still unbeaten this season, unlike Barcelona, but has not been completely convincing. The team drew 1-1 at home to Verona on Sunday and has won just two of their first five Serie A games.
The results mean both managers, who are in their first season in charge of their respective clubs, head into the match in need of a good result to quieten the doubters. A win for either side would also put them in a strong position to finish top of the group.