The dreary and boring International break is finally over as players return to their respective clubs from their national team. Barcelona stars such as Frenkie de Jong, Antonie Griezmann and several first-team players had a successful international break and are now gearing up for the final stretch of La Liga. Ronald Koeman’s side faces Real Valladolid who are lingering just above relegation spots.
The International break, though a dull period for club fans and enthusiasts has some benefits too for Barcelona. The break has allowed the injured players to recuperate without losing a lot of games. Barcelona’s injury list consists of Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto.
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While Fati and Coutinho remain long term absentees, the Spanish duo of Pique and Roberto inch closer to their return. In fact, Roberto has returned to training and is likely to receive a medical green light ahead of the Valladolid game. According to a report from Mundo Deportivo, Roberto could play at Camp Nou against Blanquivioletas.
Roberto has been out of action since February, missing a total of 12 games due to a muscle injury. During his time on the sidelines, Sergino Dest made the most out of the opportunity and now remains an unchallenged and possibly undisputed starter in the team. Perhaps, the change in shape and system has brought out the best in Dest. The 3-5-2 suits Dest better due to his attributes as compared to Roberto.
The USMNT star is likely to edge Roberto in the wing-back role but that doesn’t mean the 29-year-old won’t play a part in the Real Valladolid game. With the all-important El Clasico on 11th April, Koeman wants to keep the first team players as fresh as possible especially after some of them have had long travelling hours with their national teams.
Dutch midfielder de Jong played 90 minutes of all three World Cup qualifiers for Holland. The 23-year-old has been relentless, playing 3588 minutes of football in 41 games for Barcelona. The player also played as a centre back during the absence of Ronald Araujo and Pique.
Koeman could rest some Barcelona first-team players
The report mentions that though Koeman doesn’t admit publicly, he would like to give rest to some of the first-team stars. De Jong has been working hard and deserves a rest, especially after the tiring duty with the Netherlands. The report further suggests that Koeman may deploy Roberto in the midfield and possibly rest one from the preferred triplet of Pedri, Sergio Busquets and de Jong.
De Jong deserves rest more than any other aforementioned player. The result of the upcoming El Clasico could become a deciding factor in the La Liga title race and de Jong needs to be at his absolute best for the game against Los Blancos. So, resting the Dutchman against Valladolid could be a sensible decision.
Should Frenkie de Jong be rested for the Valladolid game and be replaced by Sergi Roberto in the lineup?