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Messi & De Jong out of Barcelona squad for Champions League game

Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona
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The Barcelona skipper and Dutch midfielder have been left out of the 19-man squad for the upcoming Champions League match.

Ronald Koeman has omitted Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong from his 19-man squad for Barcelona’s trip to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.

The pair will now join the injured Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, and Ronald Araujo on the sidelines.

But Koeman explained in his pre-match conference that Barcelona’s comfortable advantage in Group H convinced him to give them a rest.

“We have casualties due to injuries and we have also decided that Messi will not go, nor De Jong, because the situation in the Champions League is quite comfortable,” said the Blaugrana coach as quoted by ElDesmarque.

“They need a break, they have played many games, and it is time for them to rest.”

Barcelona will play 13 fixtures in all competitions from Tuesday’s meeting with Dynamo Kiev right until January 10. So, based on this, Koeman has given Messi and De Jong a much-needed rest in this jam-packed schedule.

Samuel Umtiti isn’t quite ready to return to action either. The French center-back, though, is back in training from a long layoff and could feature in around two weeks’ time pending on how he progresses.

The five-time Champions League winners, meanwhile, have won all three of their games so far. They hold a three-point lead over Juventus at the top of Group G, with Dynamo Kyiv in third on a single point.

Qualification into the knockout stages, therefore, is almost secured. It’s more of a matter of deciding who finishes first to secure a more favorable tie in the last-16.