Ronald Koeman decides to rest key players ahead of Champions League trip to Budapest

Barcelona travel to Budapest today ahead of facing Ferencvaros in the Champions League tomorrow evening.

The Blaugrana have already qualified for the last 16 of the competition so have opted to leave behind Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho.

“With this season’s schedule, there are two moments where Messi can rest, in Kiev and tomorrow,” Ronald Koeman told the assembled media at the pre-match press conference.

“From tomorrow, there will be no more opportunities. Being qualified already also influences the decision. The game on Saturday [at Cadiz] is very important for La Liga.”

Koeman also offered an update on the centre-back situation. Gerard Pique will be out for some months due to the injury he picked up against Atletico Madrid, while Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo are working their way back to full fitness.

“I have spoken with Pique, he’s at the Ciutat Esportiva every day,” he said. “I’m not the doctor and I haven’t influenced his decision not to have surgery. We can count on him but without setting a date, I hope he can play games this season.

“Umtiti is close to returning. Tomorrow we have a friendly game with Barcelona B, and with Araujo we don’t want to take any risk. If he’s not with us against Juventus, he should be there in the next game.”

The Dutchman also touched on Barcelona’s upcoming elections, scheduled for January 24th. Much of the discourse around the elections has surrounded whether each candidate would continue with Koeman in the dugout should they be elected.

“The elections don’t bother me,” he said. “I have a two-year contract. When I signed with Barcelona I knew there would be elections this season. We, the players and the coaches, have to work hard to get the best results and we’ll see what happens.”

Barcelona have a 100% start in Europe so far this season, winning all four of their Champions League games. Koeman also rested Messi and Frenkie De Jong for last week’s clash with Dynamo Kyiv and won 4-0.

The Blaugrana’s domestic form also seems to be on the upturn, with the Catalans beating Osasuna by the same scoreline on Sunday afternoon. After Cadiz, Barcelona will welcome Juventus to Camp Nou for the final matchday of the Champions League group stages.

Featured image courtesy of Barca Blaugranes.

Tags Barcelona Champions League Ronald Koeman