Barcelona are lucky in that they have quality players all over the pitch and a genuine issue with accommodating all of them happily each season.
There are bound to be passengers and those that just can’t get into the side, try as they might.
Though Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto don’t really fall into that bracket, neither is playing as much as they should.The issue appears to stem from whether Ernesto Valverde believes that they can play together as a pairing.
Semedo was brought in from Benfica on the basis of playing right full-back.
Roberto‘s position was never really in that area of the pitch – he was always known as a midfielder during his time at La Masia – but after being trialled there by Luis Enrique, he made a decent fist of it.
Therefore, Roberto is now more often seen as a right-back rather than an attacking midfielder, and as a result either one or the other is played, but generally not at the same time.
After Semedo came on against Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final last Wednesday, it changed the course of the match.
Liverpool were beginning to get on top, albeit without scoring, but the Portuguese’s pace forced Jurgen Klopp into tinkering with his formation.
With Philippe Coutinho sacrificed, it afforded Valverde the opportunity of playing Roberto back in his more natural role on the right side of midfield, which in turn allowed Semedo to get up and down the flank to great effect.
Barcelona were able to take advantage on the break, knowing that they had an outlet for the last 25 minutes who could run Liverpool’s defence ragged.
Andrew Robertson‘s raiding into Blaugrana territory was certainly slowed down during that period, and with the marauding left-back unable to help join in at the opposite end of the pitch, Liverpool’s attacks quickly broke down.
There was enough in Semedo’s cameo to suggest that, as a unit, he and Roberto should be given a good few more chances yet before any decisions are made one way or the other.
We’re led to believe that Coutinho isn’t leaving any time soon, and, frankly, you don’t leave your record signing on the bench week in and week out.
Furthermore, the Brazilian has got back in the groove of late and has deserved his starting spot when handed one.
Equally, it’s worth thinking of Semedo/Roberto as an option together from this point, rather than substituting one for the other, as has generally been the case.