With Nelson Semedo out for five weeks, Jordi Alba still struggling for fitness and Sergi Roberto banned for one game, a unique opportunity has opened up in both of the full-back positions.
How often do we keep saying that none of the perceived ‘reserve’ players ever get a chance to show what they can do, and here we are with two of them handed a chance to impress on a plate.
We’ve seen little of Moussa Wague these last few weeks, save for some contributions in training, whilst we’ve been led to believe that Ernesto Valverde doesn’t really fancy Junior Firpo, hence why Nelson Semedo has often been preferred as the covering left-back.
Appreciation tweet for Junior Firpo; who hasn't played in a month, yet still made us forget Alba was out injured.— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 9, 2019
Now that such an option isn’t available to the coach, he is forced, like it or not, to play the youngsters. Both are raw, yes, but they also need a good run in the team in order to be able to prove their worth.
That’s unlikely to happen, but at the very least both players can give it their all over the next few games and make Valverde’s decision more difficult than it would otherwise be.
It’s worth dwelling on the fact too that Alba is getting no younger, and he will probably find that such injuries will become a work hazard in the future because of the way in which he plays the game.
Begs the question as to why the club rewarded him with a five-year contract doesn’t it?!
— After Semedo's injury and Roberto being suspended for the next game, surely it is time to give Wagué a chance? [sport] pic.twitter.com/B5xTMTCea5— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 10, 2019
Semedo could potentially earn the club big money if they were to test the water in terms of interest, but that would require Wague to step up to the plate of course - starting now.
I’d suggest that his and Firpo’s biggest test is not only how well they cope defensively against the likes of Dortmund et al, but also their associative play with Messi.
Given Leo’s penchant to play in Alba and go about his work down that left channel, the pressure will be on Firpo in particular to deliver.
For the players themselves, despite any inevitable pressure and nerves, this opportunity is something they’d have been dreaming of since pre-season.
Ernesto Valverde: Won't play a player for 10 games straight and then expect that player to perform at top level in the 20 minutes he's given and then capitalise on those 20 minutes. Are you for real? Aleña, Firpo, Wague and Dembélé deserve more minutes. It's annoying.— SN (@Oriolista) November 4, 2019
Look at poor old Carles Alena by way of another example. What he would give for a hour here or there.
There’s simply no point in either player taking the view that any starting places are only temporary. Both offer much, and confidence is potentially the only thing holding them back at this stage.
Time for them to be bold and be brave. Time for us to see what they’re made of.