USMNT star Sergiño Dest should be in line for a run of games in the Barcelona starting lineup, after current starting right back Dani Alves was given a two-game suspension for his red card in their previous outing.
The 38 year-old club legend Alves has surpassed Dest to be head coach Xavi’s preferred right-back since the beginning of the year. He was having perhaps his best game in the Blaugrana uniform on Sunday, scoring one goal and setting up another, until he received an unnecessary red card midway through the second half for a reckless tackle on Atletico’s Yannick Carrasco.
Dest immediately took over for Alves, locking down the right side of the defense in their eventual 4-2 victory over their Madrid rivals.
Today, the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) released their list of suspensions resulting from the last matchday, and opted to suspend Alves for two further La Liga games.
As Alves was not added to the team’s roster of players eligible for the upcoming Europa League knockout round, this could very well put Dest in line for a starting spot in Barcelona’s next three matches.
The first leg of Barcelona’s Europa League knockout round series against Napoli is sandwiched between league contests against Espanyol and Valencia.
Rather than the standard one-game suspension for a straight red, the Competition Committee added on a second game since, in their opinion, which is backed up by video replays, Alves made no attempt to reach the ball, instead making a malicious stomp on Carrasco’s calf.
This looks to be a golden opportunity for the recently injured and out-of-favor Dest to work his way back into Xavi’s plans. Even though Alves has been very good since his return to Barcelona, with one goal and three assists in his five appearances, at 38, he is not an every-game player.
Already seeming to be the preferred cover for Alves when needed, the American could further open the door for a more equal split of minutes if he is able to put in a strong performance whenever called upon over these next three games.
The first opportunity will be on Sunday night, when the Blaugrana visit crosstown rivals Espanyol in the Barcelona derby.