This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Although they took a point from their 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona did not come out of the game entirely unscathed.
Jordi Alba had to be substituted off before half-time, and the Catalan giants have already officially confirmed his hamstring injury. With him out of commission, it will be Junior Firpo’s time to step up.
Injuries have been a rather common theme in Blaugrana’s ongoing 2019/20 season. After all, they had to wait until their Champions League opener to give Lionel Messi his first appearance of the season, and they’re still waiting for the return of Ousmane Dembele, who only featured in the curtain-raiser at the very beginning of the campaign.
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And now, Alba has joined his sidelined teammates as the newest face on the injury list. But luckily, not all is dark and gloomy. Firpo has the ability to replace the Spaniard, having arrived from Real Betis during the summer.
Replacing someone of Alba’s status at Barcelona is definitely easier said than done.
After all, we’re talking about a player who has featured in a total of 305 games for the Catalans and managed to tally an excellent 16 goals and 57 assists. Needless to say, that latter one is a really sublime figure, especially considering that Alba is a defender first and foremost.
But Firpo is no slouch either. He had a real breakthrough season at Real Betis in 2018/19 and that was the campaign that essentially earned him his move to Camp Nou. That year, he recorded three goals and four assists in 24 games in La Liga, an exceptional return.
Firpo has only played a total of nine minutes this season and wasn’t even on the bench against Dortmund, but this injury just might force Valverde’s hand and give Firpo a chance he’s been craving.
From this point onward, everything rests on his shoulders. It is down to him to grasp the opportunity.