Barcelona must weigh up the decision whether to rest Lionel Messi for today’s trip to Getafe ahead of a congested run of fixtures, while Real Madrid are still waiting on the return of Eden Hazard from injury.
Messi played the full 90 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia during the international break, the second of which was played at altitude in La Paz. The Barca captain has not missed a single minute for his club since football resumed in June following the coronavirus shutdown.
Koeman also said he was willing to start Messi against Getafe despite seven games in the space of 21 days awaiting Barca. “Leo has spent many years playing in a tight schedule, and if he doesn’t play then he feels even more tired,” Koeman added.
“We want to pick our best team in every game so we can win and although people are tired after their international games, everyone has returned feeling happy and motivated.”
Barca host Hungarian side Ferencvaros on Tuesday and then face sworn enemies Real Madrid four days later behind closed doors at the Camp Nou. The Catalan club head to Italy for a Champions League clash with Juventus on October 28 before games against Alaves and Real Betis either side of the visit of Dynamo Kiev.
Meanwhile, Koeman has said that he will continue to play Antoine Griezmann in the best possible role for the team rather than the one the forward prefers.
Griezmann, who has failed to score for Barca this term, appeared to send a message to Koeman after scoring in France’s 2-1 win over Croatia on Wednesday, remarking that national side manager Didier Deschamps knew how to get the best out of him.
The Frenchman was playing as a deep-lying forward behind Kylian Mbappe and Anthony Martial but has been operating down the right wing for Barca this season, with Lionel Messi playing centrally and Philippe Coutinho as the deep-lying playmaker.
“Everyone has the right to say things but the coach is in charge and the player has to perform his best,” Koeman said.
“I spoke to him yesterday, we talked about his position and his performances, and I told him that I look for the best solution for the team, and if I think he is better off moving down the right wing, then I’ll play him there.”
Griezmann was Atletico Madrid’s talisman for five years before joining Barca for 120mn euros in 2019 but has largely struggled to shine in the same team as Messi, scoring only nine league goals last season.
Former boss Ernesto Valverde could not get the best out of him, while successor Quique Setien also struggled to find the forward’s best role, and left him on the bench for a crucial game against Atletico last season, bringing him on in added time.
Meanwhile, leaders Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga since March, winning 13 of their past 15 games, and welcome Cadiz to the capital this weekend.
Zinedine Zidane could also opt to rotate some players but Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are in line to play after resting while others were away on international duty.
Courtois left the Belgium squad with a back injury and while he is fit to return, compatriot Hazard is not yet ready for action. The 29-year-old has yet to feature this season having picked up a muscle injury as he worked his way back from an ankle problem.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Today: Granada v Sevilla (1100), Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid (1400), Real Madrid v Cadiz (1630), Getafe v Barcelona (1900)
Sunday: Eibar v Osasuna (1000), Athletic Bilbao v Levante (1200), Villarreal v Valencia (1400), Alaves v Elche (1630), Huesca v Real Valladolid (1630), Real Betis v Real Sociedad (1900)
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