After dropping point from a vital match against Atletico Madrid by 1-0 in Laliga and losing two key defenders Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto to Injuries, Coach Ronald Koeman has decided to rest Leo for Tuesday’s Champions League against Dynamo Kyiv.
The Dutchman lashed out the packed European football calendar by saying , ““Sometimes you need to protect the players because the game calendar is incredible,”
While the loss to Atletico sealed their worst start to a La Liga season in 29 years, Barca are flying high in Europe with three wins out of three in Group G and victory against Dynamo will clinch their place in the last 16. Koeman said his side’s strong position in Group G was behind him resting Messi and Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong but he also took a swipe at the unforgiving football schedule.
“We thought it was a good moment to rest Leo and Frenkie as most of our players have played every minute with us and then they played with the national teams and Messi had a difficult trip back from South America (after playing for Argentina).” he added.
The exhausting European schedule, which has been further clutched by the COVID-19 pandemic, has come under renewed analysis recently due to mounting injuries. Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp took aim at broadcasters Sky and BT on Sunday over match scheduling, while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane also said there were too many games.
“It’s impossible to keep the players fit,” added Koeman. “Look at the example of Sergi Roberto, the reason he got injured was because of playing too many games. Everybody knows this but still, we need to continue to play this number of games, it’s incredible.
Koeman added that 21-year-old defender Oscar Mingueza could be handed his Barca debut against Dynamo due to the team’s lack of options at the back, with Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo still carrying injuries.