Bayern Munich rather enjoyed themselves the last time they faced Barcelona in the Champions League, and whilst nobody is expecting the scoreline to be the same on Tuesday, Ronald Koeman has an increasing crisis in his forward line.
Just two of the Blaugrana’s six recognised forward player will be available for selection at the Camp Nou on Tuesday, leaving the Dutch coach with few options to manoeuvre against one of the sport’s best young coaches in Julian Nagelsmann.
Antoine Griezmann was forced to be sacrificed to remove his wage from the club’s exorbitant salary bill, and this was the first matter which left Koeman frustrated.
What followed was more anger as a result of the leaks regarding his conversation with Joan Laporta regarding a contract extension, and now he is to be without Martin Braithwaite, with the Danish international suffering a serious knee injury.
The alarm bells rang during Sunday’s training session, in which the one-time Middlesbrough forward was unable to participate fully.
Alas, he was pushing himself to try and return to full fitness for Tuesday’s match, but he suffered further damage and needed to undergo medical tests to find out the full extent of the ailment in question.
These results weren’t positive, indicating that surgery was the required course of action, and one that will keep Braithwaite out of for a period of two to three months.
He joins the injured list alongside Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele, leaving Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay as the only fit selection options.
In truth, Memphis has performed remarkably well since he arrived, although he is yet to be tested against elite opposition such as Bayern Munich, whilst De Jong hasn’t been brought in to make a difference, but merely to add depth in the position.
An alternate solution?
What is exceedingly rare from Koeman, would be the possibility of a tactical tweak in order to utilise Coutinho or Yusuf Demir as a forward player on Tuesday.
The Brazilian is due to return after nine months out, whilst Demir had a fantastic pre-season, although Koeman doesn’t wish to rush him into such a difficult fixture.