Madrid, Spain | THE INDEPENDENT | FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman can be expected to bring changes when his side plays Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Barca have already assured their place in the last 16 in the competition after winning all five of their previous group matches. Their 2-0 win away in Turin earlier in the stage means it would need a disaster to rob them of qualification as group leaders and an easier draw in the next round.
However, this season has seen Barca suffer their fair share of disasters with the latest coming on Saturday as they lost 2-1 to Cadiz after committing individual errors and failing to break down a rival that had just 18 percent of the ball in the game.
Koeman’s men are now 12 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid and can’t afford any more domestic slip-ups. With that in mind the coach will probably rest players such as Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet and Marc Andre Ter Stegen for the weekend league game against Levante.
That would see Neto return in goal, while Junior Firpo will play on the left and Ronald Araujo or even Samuel Umtiti could return in central defense as their return to fitness boosts Koeman’s options at the back.
Another flat display from Sergio Busquets on Saturday should give Miralem Pjanic or Carles Alena the chance in central midfield, with Pjanic no doubt relishing the chance to face his former club.
A hamstring strain will keep the injury prone Ousmane Dembele out of the game, but while there are doubts over whether Antoine Griezmann or Philippe Coutinho will be rested (Coutinho only played 45 minutes on Saturday), it looks as if Leo Messi will start, allowing us another chapter in the eternal Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duel in a game in which Barca have little to gain and more to lose.