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 Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite.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.
Just in: Neymar’s entourage confirms renewal with PSG as he ‘likes the project’
Fabrizio Romano has broken huge news as part of Neymar’s contract situation with Paris Saint-Germain, which all but officially announces that the Brazilian will be staying in France, contrary to what has been reported recently. The report suggests that that he will sign his extension soon, which is bound to include a massive UCL bonus.
Neymar’s entourage have confirmed his decision to stay with the Paris outfit in conversation with France Football, saying, “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project.”
Neymar is expected to sign soon his new contract with Paris Saint-Germain until June 2026, huge UCL bonus confirmed too. His entourage just announced to France Football: “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project”. 🇧🇷 #PSG https://t.co/LMnrpctSkx— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 12, 2021
PSG have, in fact, actually enjoyed success in Europe in the recent past. They reached the Champions League final last season, crumbling only to the unstoppable Bayern Munich by a mere one goal to nil. Since then, they have fired Thomas Tuchel, and hired Mauricio Pochettino, who inspired an incredible victory against Bayern in this season’s Champions League quarters. Spearheaded by Neymar and Mbappe, the capital-side hit the defending champions for three goals, conceding two.
Despite their lead in the UCL, they do not have a stronghold on the trophy with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Real Madrid still in the running. It becomes a lot more problematic when you realise their situation in Ligue 1.
PSG look far from comfortable in the league, which is a shocker to say the least. As it stands, Pochettino’s mean are in second place with 66 points, three adrift of Lille who top the table with one of the most impressive defensive records in Europe.
A season without either of the big trophies might force Neymar to have a change of mind, with the Barcelona project looking much more comprehensive under Joan Laporta. In fact, the new President might look at the Brazilian as the key that will allow Lionel Messi to stay at the club. We do the same rumours annually, so it is only fair if any of these ‘confirmations’ are turned on their head in the coming weeks.