After losing against Real Madrid, Ronald Koeman has yet another tough fixture to his rough start in Catalunya. In the second Champions League game of his tenure, Koeman faces Juventus in what seems like a battle of two struggling coaches. On the one hand, Andrea Pirlo is winless in his last three league games as Koeman is.
Moreover, Pirlo is missing three centre-backs, with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt out for the Wednesday clash. Still, Koeman isn’t any luckier since Gerard Piqué is out because of the red card he got against Ferencvaros. Without the “President” in defence, the Dutchman will have to compose with Ronald Araujo and Clément Lenglet. The pair are two brilliant centre-backs who haven’t played alongside each other much, however.
This fixture is the hardest in the group for the Catalans as they face the toughest opponent away from home, a recurrent problem for the Culés in European competitions. Also, if something happens to Araujo or Lenglet, the backup defender is Oscar Mingueza. The youngster was included along with four other Barça B players in the UCL squad. This test will be interesting to see, and Koeman has to win his first big game with Barcelona.
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 Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite.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.