The wait for Philippe Coutinho to play for Barcelona prolongs. There was a thought circulating among the fans that Coutinho would be given the number 10 shirt and the role to lead the attack, but he has been given the number 14 shirt and whether he would be given the role lead or not remains a moot question. Coutinho was unavailable against Getafe as Memphis Depay salvaged the day for the Catalans.

With Eric Garcia suspended due to last week’s stoppage-time red card and Gerard Pique injured, coach Ronald Koeman opted for Clement Lenglet and Ronald Araujo as his centre-back pairing, while Emerson came in for Sergino Dest at right-back. Sergi Roberto was pushed into midfield for the resting Pedri, while the Dutch boss continued with a front three of Antoine Griezmann, Martin Braithwaite and Depay.

It could not have been a better start for Barcelona, with a great team goal resulting in a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the match.

Depay found on the left-wing the streaking Jordi Alba, whose cross was dummied by Braithwaite and met by the sliding foot of Sergi Roberto for the goal.

But Getafe were unfazed and forced a Barca error by using some slick passing that saw former Sandro and Carles Alena playing a one-two combination in which the former slammed a right-footer into the net to draw his side level 1-1.

Barcelona would respond in kind with some brilliant work from Depay, who collected a pass from countryman Frenkie de Jong, wrong-footed a defender and beat Getafe goalkeeper Soria at the near post to regain the lead for the home side, 2-1.

While Barcelona held the lead starting the second half, it felt like a tenuous one, as Getafe were getting forward into the Barcelona half and the hosts were not as clean as usual with the ball.

Koeman’s first move to the bench was a straight swap with Dest on for Emerson, but it did nothing to change the nervy nature of the affair as play entered the final 20 minutes.

Knocks to Sergi Roberto and Braithwaite then forced Koeman into another two changes, with youngsters Gavi and Nico Gonzalez each getting a chance to show their wares.

Getafe looked the more likely side to score as the minutes ticked away, but the advantage still belonged to Barcelona, and a defensive change was made as Oscar Mingueza replaced the ineffective Griezmann for the final minutes.

Dest was one of the few Barcelona players taking on Getafe players 1v1 and one such foray forward nearly resulted in another goal for Depay late on, but the former Lyon man failed to connect cleanly.


In the end, Getafe did not do enough to punish a Barcelona side far from their best, allowing the hosts to pocket the three points.

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