FC Barcelona (Barca), the Spanish giants managed a 1-1 draw against Chelsea FC in the first leg of the UCL Round of 16 at Stamford Bridge. The second leg scheduled for March 15 will be a great treat for football fans.
Unfortunately, Barca has been struck with a major blow as club Captain Andres Iniesta has suffered an injury. Barcelona top the Spanish league with 69 points but Ernesto Valverde may not be happy because just before their clash with Chelsea the man in form, and Spanish legend Andres Iniesta has suffered a hamstring injury.
Barcelona may be eight points clear from Athletico Madrid in La Liga but the UCL is a different ball game entirely. It wont be that easy for Valverde to knock out Conte’s blue army. Whom can he rely on to hold the fort in midfield?
Listed below are four alternatives to Iniesta;
#4 Ousmane Dembele
The 20 year old Frenchman may not have the experience of Iniesta but he certainly has the talent to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The erstwhile Borrusia Dortmund winger has so far played 11 games with four assists, one of these in the Champions League.
If Valverde entrusts the Frenchman with this huge responsibility, he certainly will be an asset in the massive encounter.
Paulinho played in the first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Brazilian has played 38 games for Barcelona and been an important player for the club this season. Scoring 8 goals and providing 2 assists, he’s a man in form and certainly will be a threat to the London club.
He playing style differs from that of Iniseta but can play for 90 minutes and is capable of attacking from midfield, battling in the midfield and is solid defensively.
#2 Andre Gomes
Although Gomes is facing a backlash from the Barca faithful for a string of poor performances, this match against Chelsea provides a great opportunity for Gomes to convert whistles into applause.
The central midfielder is not at the top of his game at the moment but if Valverde shows interest in this man, he may prove his mettle in this encounter.
#1 Denis Suarez
Denis Suarez has played 18 games so far for the Spanish giants and has three goals and six assists to his name. The Spaniard plays exactly like Iniesta. Though a seemingly exact replica of Andres Iniesta, the Spaniard has played less football.
Lack of experience is a major stumbling block for him but if he is inspired, he has the technique and the ability to cause problems in the box for Chelsea. He certainly can be a threat to Chelsea at Camp Nou.
Heart of matter
Ernesto Valverde has a huge task ahead of him, he needs to carefully select Iniesta’s replacement on the day. Hopefully for him, Barca doesn’t fall at the hands of Chelsea as they did in the UCL 2012 edition.