A tough mid-week fixture awaits Barcelona as they face Ferencváros in the Champions League. It’s the first game in Europe in 2020/21 and Ronald Koeman will have to rotate the squad if he is to survive this month.
We don’t need to remind anyone that the Catalans still have Real Madrid a couple of days after and then a clash with Juventus too. For that reason, this already seems like a crucial week of football for the Azulgranas.
But speaking of rotations, SPORT claim that Miralem Pjanić is finally set to start a game for Barcelona this week. Of course, this is despite the club being negatively surprised by the Bosnian’s fitness. Part of the reason is that he has contracted the virus recently so it makes sense for him to still be catching up.
Another part of the problem could be his game time. It’s difficult to get match ready and sharp if one is not playing regularly. And yes, Koeman usually gives him at least some minutes in the second half but that’s also not a guarantee.
Now, however, as the same report claims, Pjanić will finally get his chance. Even though no opponent is to be underestimated, between Real Madrid, Juventus and Ferencváros, the latter does seem the easiest of the three.
With that in mind, we will see a different Barcelona in Europe this week. One that will have the Bosnian from the get-go.
Let’s hope he does well as the Catalans need to get back to winning ways soon. And there’s no time like the present.
Barcelona call up midfielder Matheus Fernandes for the first time
Barcelona confirmed the signing of Matheus Fernandes from Palmeiras for a fee of €7 million + €3 million in variables on the last day of the January transfer window on a four-year contract, with the release clause set at €300 million. The midfielder would join the Barcelona camp after the end of the 2019/20 season.
This transfer was regarded as a sketchy transfer as he was not touted as good enough for a club of the stature of Barcelona. In fact, the Brazilian was barely able to make it off the bench for Real Valladolid during his time with the club on six-month loan stretching from January to July this year.
During those six month, Matheus made only three appearances, registering a total of 166 minutes with starts against Atletico Madrid and Eibar, and a one-minute cameo against Real Betis. He also suffered a hamstring injury during this tenure, ruling him out for four games.
After his arrival to the Catalan capital, Matheus was not even presented as a Barcelona player unlike the signings of Pedri, Fransisco Trincão, Miralem Pjanic, and Sergino Dest. In fact, Matheus did not even participate in the pre-season friendlies as he was ruled out from a hamstring injury.
News surrounded his departure as early as January, without him even getting a chance to play for the club. However, against all odds, Matheus has been included in the squad that will take on Dynamo Kyiv in gameweek four of the UEFA Champions League. This, in all probability, stems from the exclusion of Sergio Busquets – who is injured, and Frenkie de Jong – who has been rested.
Ronald Koeman has named just four central midfielders for the trip to Ukraine, with Miralem Pjanic guaranteed a spot. However, with the lack of any natural defensive midfielders, Koeman might have to readjust his tactics, and field one of Riqui Puig and Carles Aleña in the centre of the pitch as part of the midfield.