NEW!! To be Good Resting Messi, De Jong for Clásico At the start of the new year, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona have fully turned their fortunes around. The Catalan outfit is beginning to resemble a well-oiled, ruthlessly powerful machine. They seem to be slowly losing the husk of a once mellow, fragile, and despondent group of players.
Barcelona has not lost a single game in La Liga since the start of 2021, winning 12 of the 13 games they have played. The race for the La Liga title is heating up significantly as a result of their impressive run of form and Atletico Madrid’s slow yet steady losing of points. Real Madrid, in third position and just two points behind the Blaugrana, is quietly holding up the pace.
The upcoming El Clasico on April 11th is, of course, the elephant in the room. In the background of the championship race, this is a match that would almost definitely give the winners a major advantage. Then, of course, both teams will have to send their best available players to the Bernabeu for this crucial match.
However, things aren’t entirely easy in Barcelona. After the international break, Barcelona will play Real Valladolid at home before heading to the capital. Lionel Messi and Frenkie De Jong, two of the Azulgranas’ main players this season, are trapped in a dilemma.
Both have four yellow cards and are one booking removed from being disqualified from a game. Barcelona cannot afford for any of them to lose out ahead of their match against Los Blancos. Messi and De Jong have been in incredible shape for Barça, with the former scoring 19 goals since January 2021.
Under Ronald Koeman, De Jong has also found impressive continuity in his new positions. Initially playing further up the pitch in midfield, he is currently a central defender in Koeman’s back three, filling in for Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo while they are unavailable.
NEW!! To be Good Resting Messi, De Jong for Clásico With the Clasico on the horizon, it’s debatable whether Messi and De Jong should be risked against Valladolid. Naturally, Barcelona would want to keep their winning streak running, and they cannot afford to lose points because, considering their slimmer lead, Diego Simeone’s team still leads the league.
Lionel Messi will be in outstanding physical condition to play, considering the effects of the international break. The Argentine maestro has had plenty of time to relax since the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers were postponed. Barcelona still benefits from seeing Lionel Messi in top form. They’ve demonstrated an alarming amount of dependency on the superstar to help them out of tight circumstances in recent years.
However, the main advantage of this new-look Barcelona team seems to be their ability to work together as a squad rather than dependent on a single player to make it happen. This, of course, means that he can be rested.
However, matters are more complex when it comes to Frenkie De Jong. If he returns to his defensive or even midfield position, the risks of him getting booked are far better than the chances of Messi getting another ticket. The risk factor has risen. In addition, since his appearance against Gibraltar, the Dutchman has played four games in nine days, playing in all three of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifiers during the International Break. This brings up the problem of exhaustion, which is another dangerous possibility that can be avoided.
To conclude, Barcelona has more than enough consistency and determination to beat Valladolid without jeopardising Messi and De Jong’s chances of winning the El Clasico. It would be ideal if they were both well rested.
If one of them has to play, Ronald Koeman can still call on Lionel Messi from the bench if he needs any motivation. With Barcelona’s other in-form midfield choices, De Jong being fully rested would be the most viable choice. He could profit from the remainder, and Koeman won’t have to worry about the Dutchman in the Galacticos match.