Barcelona will be without Philippe Coutinho when they face Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday after the Brazilian suffered a thigh strain in his side’s Clasico defeat against Real Madrid.
The Catalan club confirmed the injury after tests on Sunday and it opens the door to a possible starting role for Antoine Griezmann, who was left on the bench for Barcelona’s biggest game of the season so far on Saturday.
The Frenchman is likely to start in the central attacking midfield role. He hasn’t enjoyed many chances this season, starting two games from the bench and is clearly struggling to convince Ronald Koeman of his role.
His criticism of the way that his new coach is handling his role in the team has only served to make the situation more tense, depriving Griezmann of the stability which he is yet to find in Barcelona.
Against Juventus, he has a chance to shine. Griezmann can show the world of football what he has to offer, much like he did with Atletico Madrid, beating the Italian champions twice in three meetings.
In the current season, Griezmann has played five games, four from the start, adding up to 272 minutes, though only nine came in the Clasico. But he’s yet to score.
After the tie against Real Madrid, he was one of those to face criticism having made no impact as a substitute, with 17-year-old Pedri preferred in the starting line-up.
The opposite for Coutinho
For Coutinho, the situation is a complete reversal, given that he has been excelling in the opening weeks of the season and has the backing of Koeman.
He will hope that this is just a bump in the road which will interrupt his momentum but little more, with a quick recovery from this thigh strain crucial to continue how he is establishing himself back at Camp Nou after a year away at Bayern Munich.