Madrid, Spain| XINHUA | FC Barcelona look to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Getafe in La Liga on Saturday night when they entertain Hungarian side Ferencvaros in their first game in the Champions League group stage.
It is just over two months since Barca’s last European adventure ended in disastrous fashion as they were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in a defeat that began a chain reaction that ended with Quique Setien being sacked as coach and replaced by Ronald Koeman and players such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic shown the door.
Koeman’s reign began promisingly with energetic wins against Villarreal and Celta Vigo, but Barca looked flat in a 1-1 draw at home to Sevilla before the international break, and in Saturday’s defeat to Getafe.
The Dutchman rested Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati at the weekend and presumably they will both start against a rival Barca should have few problems in beating.
Antoine Griezmann’s place is probably in doubt after he disappointed again in Getafe, days after questioning the role he plays in Koeman’s side, while teenagers Pedri or Francisco Trincao also have chances of starting.
Both Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets disappointed at the weekend and that could give a chance to Miralem Pjanic in the heart of the Barca midfield, while injuries to Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo will probably mean Sergino Dest continues at left back.
Koeman is likely to have one eye on Saturday’s ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid and may feel some temptation to rest Gerard Pique for the weekend, in which case Ronald Araujo will partner Clement Lenglet in the heart of the Barca defense.
After seeing his side’s positive start to the season run out of steam in their last two games, Koeman needs a comfortable win against the Hungarians, but he and everyone associated with the club knows that this is merely the warm-up, and the game he will really be judged on will take place Saturday.