Barcelona vs Alaves Focused on league duty ahead of PSG clash
Just the second question aimed at Ronald Koeman ahead of his side’s LaLiga Santander match against Alaves tonight was about Neymar‘s recent injury.
The Dutch coach wanted to make it clear that all of his focus is on league duty.
“Neymar doesn’t play with Alaves, does he? So we’ll talk about that on Monday”, said Koeman.
After a tricky start to his time in charge at the Camp Nou, Koeman‘s Barcelona side have turned things around since he reverted back to their traditional 4-3-3 system. Since the turn of the year, his team have been the best in the country taking a maximum 18 points from 18 so far in 2021.
What seemed like a hopeless situation for Barcelona just a few weeks ago, is now looking more promising. The vast improvement in performances over the last month or so and the boost of some returning players has injected some hope in to those connected with the Catalan side and they certainly won’t be giving up the league titles without a fight. They will be hoping for a slip up from Atletico Madrid who have a difficult tie away to Granada this evening.
Sergino Dest and Miralem Pjanic trained with the group on Friday but can’t be rushed in to the side. Martin Braithwaite is set to miss the game even though he trained with the squad on Thursday and did some gym work on Friday.
Koeman will be forced to make do with the players he has and the backline, which has been unconvincing in recent games, is proving to be his biggest headache, especially since the club were unwilling to splash out to bring in Eric Garcia from Manchester City. He currently has only Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti and Oscar Mingueza available in central defence.
Alaves come in to the match in good form and will be looking to extend their run of two clean sheets against Getafe and Valladolid. They’ll take confidence from their last meeting with Barcelona where they took a valuable point from the game playing with ten men for the last half hour.
Abelardo will probably stick to the same line-up he’s opted for in recent games with possibly just one change with Ximo Navarro unable to play because of a knock so Martn Aguirregabiria is expected to fill in at right-back.