Ousmane Dembele could miss Lyon game with hamstring injury
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The French winger took a hit after coming on against Rayo Vallecano.
Barcelona have a crucial next clash against Lyon which could define their season as the Champions League is one of their top priorities. The resource and personnel gap between the two clubs means it should be a relatively straightforward game for the Catalans at Camp Nou. However, The Gones put in an impressive defensive performance to hold them to a 0-0 draw in the first leg, and Barça could be without Ousmane Dembele.
The 21-year-old has proven his worth to the squad this season as a game changer with key contributions in a number of matches such as the Spanish Super Cup winner as well as the equalizer against Atletico Madrid in the league and two assists against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey. He works well with Lionel Messi as the Argentinian draws the attention of the opposing defense, so he usually has room to work on the wings.
According to an official statement from the club, Dembele suffers from hamstring tension which could exclude him from Lyon’s second leg depending on his progress. He hasn’t worked with the squad in training, which is a bad sign as it means he’ll likely be limited to a substitute role at best. In his absence, Ernesto Valverde has the choice between two realistic options – Malcom or Philippe Coutinho.
Malcom impressed when given opportunities – three goals in 534 minutes – although Valverde doesn’t seem to trust him as he has only played once since scoring against Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg of the Copa del Rey. He would add breadth to the front line so Lyon can’t focus too tightly in an attempt to reduce space for Messi in the central attacking areas.
The Argentina playmaker could be played center as a false 9 with Luis Suarez and Malcom scoring behind. It would be better if the Brazilian were played on his favorite right winger, as it would allow him to cut to his stronger left foot and ensure Jordi Alba has all of the left channel to perform runs due to Suarez’s drift in central areas. .
Coutinho is more experienced than his compatriot, but he has disappointed this season after a promising start to his career at Barcelona in the second half of last season. Eight goals and five assists in 2,451 minutes are not enough to make up for his problems with Barcelona’s style as he often struggles to combine effectively in the final third and his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. Malcom would definitely be the best choice.