Koeman pragmatic as injuries hit Barca ahead of Cup semifinal


MADRID, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman faces a host of injuries as he prepares for the first leg of his side’s Copa del Rey semifinal away to Sevilla on Wednesday night.

An ankle injury suffered by central defender Ronald Araujo on Sunday saw him added to an already lengthy list of absentees that includes Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Philippe Coutinho.

To add to Koeman’s woes, defender Sergino Dest, midfielder Miralem Pjanic and striker Martin Braithwaite missed Tuesday’s training and Koeman confirmed in his pre-game press conference that none of the trio would be available on Wednesday night.

“They are out because they are not in good physical shape and I would rather take players who are fit that take any more risks. It’s true we have eight or nine people out, but every problem has a solution,” said Koeman during his press conference.

The coach implied that Samuel Umtiti would partner with Clement Lenglet in central defense and ruled out the option of dropping Frenkie de Jong into a defensive role.

“It’s true that if we put Frenkie as a defender we lose something in the middle of the park and if we can play a central defender, its better. We lose something if Frenkie isn’t in the middle,” he admitted.

Dest’s absence means Oscar Mingueza will continue at right back, while De Jong and Sergio Busquets will play in central midfield, with Pedri, who was rested for the first half at the weekend.

Leo Messi had also watched the first half of Sunday’s win away to Betis from the bench and he will lead the attack along with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, both of whom are in arguably their best form since joining Barcelona.

“Both Sevilla and us have been in good form in recent games, we know them and they know us well too. I think it will be a good game,” commented Koeman. Enditem


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