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Centre-Back Duo Return For Barcelona Ahead of Juventus Clash



Centre-backs Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo have been named in the matchday squad for Barcelona’s final Champions League group stage fixture against Juventus.

La Blaugrana have suffered a bit of a defensive crisis of late, losing several central defenders to injury. Veteran Gerard Pique was the latest casualty, suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury which is expected to keep him out for most of the season.

Pique suffered an ACL injury against Atletico Madrid

For a while, manager Ronald Koeman was left with Clement Lenglet as his only senior available centre-back. Youngster Oscar Mingueza had to be fast tracked into the starting XI, while midfielder Frenkie de Jong also deputised in defence.

But now it looks like the backline worries are coming to an end, with both Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo returning to action against Juventus.

Araujo has been absent since the reverse fixture at the Allianz Stadium back in October, missing eight games with a hamstring problem.

Araujo has made an impression this season

Meanwhile, Umtiti is still yet to make an appearance under new boss Koeman, having been sidelined with a knee injury. The World Cup winner has had his career at the Camp Nou blighted by injuries, causing him to fall down the pecking order behind Pique and Lenglet.

It is unclear whether either will be fit enough to feature, but Koeman will welcome the return of the two defenders.

However, there is no room for French winger Ousmane Dembele, who misses out with an unspecified injury. The former Borussia Dortmund man opened the scoring in the first meeting between the two sides.

Barcelona go into the game knowing that avoiding defeat will seal a first place finish in Group G.

The Catalan giants have had a flawless European campaign so far, winning five out of five, scoring 16, while conceding just two. If they can limit Juventus to just two goals or fewer, then they will end the group stages at the top.

However, all eyes will be on the reunion between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who will meet for the first time since the Portuguese superstar left Real Madrid in 2018.