Ronald Koeman has subjected himself to the wrath of some Barcelona fans after deciding to rest all-time great Lionel Messi for this afternoon’s must-win La Liga tie against Real Betis.
The 33-year-old has been benched for today’s tie, whilst Messi certainly needs a rest, the decision to award the Argentine that chance against Betis rather than against Dynamo Kyiv is very bizarre.
Barcelona beat Kyiv 2-1 in a Champions League encounter that was much more closely-contested than many anticipated, especially as Kyiv fielded a weaker side due to players testing positive for Covid-19.
Koeman has made three changes from that lineup ahead of the game against Betis.
Sergi Roberto is at right-back ahead of Sergino Dest, Frenkie de Jong has been moved back into midfield as Clement Lenglet comes back into the side at the expense of Miralem Pjanic.
Finally, Ousmane Dembele replaces Messi.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 7, 2020
Here’s how some of the Barcelona faithful have reacted to Koeman’s teamsheet:
Rest Messi when we’re 12th and need to win.
— CoulZack (@Amzaki584mscd) November 7, 2020
No way he played Messi against Dynamo and not against Betis…we are losing ??
— Neo #JusticeForRiqui (@PuigThings) November 7, 2020
NO MESSI??? I know he needs rest but not this time.?
— SUBAS (@SubasNiraula) November 7, 2020
Should’ve benched Messi last game
— Bilnation (@Bilaal10) November 7, 2020
Messi benched against Betis but not against Kyiv. Koeman ball.
Anyways he needs rest so ??
— Hassan Khalil (@hassan_k31) November 7, 2020
Busquets & Sergi ????
— ? (@Barzaboy) November 7, 2020
Koeman is forcing us to hate Busquets ???
— Barçadeep (@Soumyad01246875) November 7, 2020
Betis sit seventh with 12 points heading into the tie, but have played two more games than Barcelona – owing to the Catalan outfit’s progression in the Champions League last season delaying their start.
The Blaugrana lie 13th with just eight points, they are nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad.
Koeman’s decision is certainly very questionable, whilst Barcelona didn’t wow against Kyiv, that would’ve been a much better fixture to offer Messi some rest with a spot on the bench.
The last thing the side need before the international break is for their shaky form in La Liga to continue, widening the advantage their rivals have on them.