Barcelona quartet in danger of missing Valencia match

Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann (C) celebrates with Lionel Messi Pedri. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP) (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann (C) celebrates with Lionel Messi Pedri. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP) (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

With Atletico Madrid falling to Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona has the opportunity to go top in their midweek match against Granada.

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However, manager Ronald Koeman is going to need to be careful with his squad selection as up to four players could miss out on the weekend fixture against Valencia.

Barcelona at risk of being without important players against Valencia.

According to Sport, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, and Oscar Mingueza are all one yellow card away from picking up their fifth of the season and thus facing a one-match suspension.

Koeman is going to have to manage that risk and the chance to climb all the way to first place. A feat that looked almost impossible at the turn of the new year.

Messi and De Jong have been carrying that risk for a while now. Griezmann and Mingueza, on the other hand, received their fourth yellow card of the season in the 2-1 win over Villarreal.

Koeman has tended to pick his strongest line-up week in, week out given their position in the league table.

The Granada match, at home, seems winnable but he may not want to leave anything to chance.

If he decides to rotate, he has options at center-back. With the return of Gerard Pique, Koeman can opt to sit Mingueza and play Ronald Araujo. He also has Samuel Umtiti who featured in the Villarreal match.

The same can be said in midfield. He could rest De Jong and utilize the likes of Ilaix Moriba and Riqui Puig. The former has earned Koeman’s trust quickly and has looked lively when he’s played. Puig has been overlooked recently but also puts in solid performances in his cameos.

In attack, however, it’s a different story. Messi is the team’s best player and everything still goes through him. Out of all the players mentioned, benching him is going be the most challenging as he likes to play every game.

Factor in that the only options at the moment are Ousmane Dembele and Francisco Trincao as Martin Braithwaite is out with an injury.

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The opportunity against Granada will likely be too good to pass up and aside from a tweak here or there, expect all four to feature. At this stage, with only a handful of fixtures left, the reward outweighs the risk.