Barcelona have announced the starting XI that will take on Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey round of 16. The biggest news? Lionel Messi is back! The captain starts through the centre, with Antoine Griezmann and Fransisco Trincao rounding the front three off from the left and right respectively.
Behind them, Riqui Puig gets his second start of the season on the back of his first goal for Barcelona. He is joined by Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets in the midfield triumvirate.
Neto is given the responsibility to handle the gloves for this encounter, and screening him are Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet in the heart of the defence. Oscar Mingueza and Junior Firpo will give the width from the backline, finishing off the XI in the Kings’ Cup.
Confirmed XI: Neto; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Firpo; de Jong, Busquets, Puig; Trincao, Messi, Griezmann
Lionel Messi and Riqui Puig seemed to connect to each other last season starting together against Atletico Madrid and Deportivo Alaves, and tonight will be the first time they play together extensively after a long time. Either way, any opportunity to watch Messi is a treat!
Official: Barcelona confirm Pedri muscular injury
All victories come with a cost and Barcelona’s great triumph over Sevilla is no exception. Sadly, the Catalans’ young prodigy, Pedri, had to leave the pitch in the second half of the clash and now, the club has officially confirmed that the 18-year-old had sustained a muscular injury.
As of right now, however, we still don’t know how serious it is and we’ll have to wait for further information, which is most likely to arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately, the early speculations are not good as it seems Pedri could indeed be out of commission for a couple of weeks at least.
Needless to say, that’s a huge hit for Barcelona since the schedule is unrelenting. Soon, it will be time to face Sevilla again in the Copa del Rey and also Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Doing so without Pedri could indeed be troublesome.
But we also have to wonder how did it come to this injury. The 18-year-old is a key member of the squad so it’s understandable Ronald Koeman would want him to play all the time.
However, that might be the very crux of the problem too. With so little rest in-between the games, it was just a matter of time before Pedri’s body could take no more.
Still, not all is lost and he should be back in time to help Barcelona finish the season strong. And besides, now the youngster can finally get some well-deserved rest.
Hopefully the team can manage without him for a short period of time.