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Barcelona’s options to replace Ousmane Dembélé in the UEFA Champions League

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The Frenchman is in doubt against Olympique Lyonnais

Sevilla FC v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Ousmane Dembélé is a serious doubt against Olympique Lyonnais as Barcelona are set to put it all on the line in the UEFA Champions League. The winger suffered a hamstring strain in the Catalans’ 3-1 comeback triumph over Rayo Vallecano, and pending an amazing recovery, will not be fit to start

His injury puts a spanner in the works for Ernesto Valverde as Dembélé was sure to start until his unfortunate injury. The Frenchman may yet come off the bench, but he’s not likely to be in the team from kick-off. In his place, Valverde has three options.

Philippe Coutinho

The club’s record signing was a sure starter in the opening months of the season but since, his level has dropped while Dembélé’s has risen. Coutinho has been struggling for form as of late, but Valverde has opted to continue giving him minutes with the hopes that he’ll be out of his funk soon. Coutinho lacks the pure pace of Dembélé but he is known for his trickery, final pass, and long-distance shooting.

Malcom

Malcom was Barcelona’s most expensive signing last summer, and he is the one with the most experience playing against this Lyon side. The Brazilian was signed from Bordeaux, a team which never lost against Lyon when Malcom played. He has struggled for minutes this season, but Valverde has used him at opportune moments. He’s done the most to maximize his chances from his spare appearances, notably scoring a late goal against Inter Milan and a key equalizer in the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid. Will Valverde show his confidence in the youngster?

Sergi Roberto and Nélson Semedo

Another option for Valverde is to change the team a bit and move Sergi Roberto from right-back and put Nélson Semedo in his stead. Roberto started the first leg against Lyon in midfield with Semedo at right-back. Roberto can operate as a winger to retain the 4-3-3 shape, or he can slot into a midfield spot in a 4-4-2 system. Roberto and Semedo have gained Valverde’s trust, but is this plan too conservative given the first leg result?