Barça’s loss to Atletico was horrendous. The Catalans were outplayed and deserved to lose away to a title rival. During the game, Gerard Piqué suffered a knee sprain.
The Catalan defender could miss four to nine months of the competition, according to the reliable Cat Radio. This means Barcelona will have to fare without their best defender for the rest of the season.
With Piqué out and Ronald Araujo far from recovery, it is either time for Samuel Umtiti or Frenkie de Jong to step up at the back. The Catalan side is already depleted. They have lost many pivotal components of their game, and Piqué is another one to add to the list.
At 33, it could also mean that Gerard Piqué played the last game of his career. The defender left the pitch in tears and broke every Culé‘s hearts. After a decade of playing at the highest level, Piqué’s absence will leave a big hole in the Barça fans’ hearts.
Official: Barcelona starting lineup to face Elche — Koeman makes five changes
Barcelona will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they host Elche at the Camp Nou for the rescheduled round one fixture. Ronald Koeman has heavily rotated his team for this encounter, making five changes to the team that took on Cadiz on the weekend.
The first of these changes comes in the heart of the defence, with Samuel Umtiti coming in to replace Clement Lenglet, starting alongside Gerard Pique. Oscar Mingueza gets a start as well, but it is at right-back instead of Sergino Dest. Jordi Alba retains his spot at the left-back position, while Marc-Andre Ter Stegen holding the gloves.
Sergio Busquets had a fairly decent game against Cadiz, but sees himself on the bench with Miralem Pjanic starting as the anchor. Beside him, Frenkie De Jong and Pedri will be acting as interiors as they have so often this season.
There are two changes in the attack as well, with Fransisco Trincao getting a well-deserved start on the right-wing, replacing Ousmane Dembele. Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite. Lionel Messi will spearhead the team hoping to keep his goal-scoring run alive.
Confirmed XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; de Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Trincao, Messi, Braithwaite
Koeman seems to have played all his cards all at once for this game, replacing every other player on the pitch. While Mingueza truly deserved a place in the XI today, it should have been at centre-half instead of Umtiti, who put in a heart-wrenching display against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey no more than two weeks back.