Juventus are travelling to Camp Nou without Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio as they are welcomed by Barcelona on Tuesday.
However, Barcelona fans will be happy to learn that one player is certain to start at Camp Nou on Tuesday – Lionel Messi. The Argentine forward scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s win over Espanyol and Valverde feels safe in the knowledge that an in-form Messi can make Barca that much stronger.
The Barcelona boss also has Sergi Roberto at his disposal, with the Spaniard recovering from a minor knee problem that forced him to miss the match against Espanyol. Paco Alcacer, though, is unavailable due to illness, but Denis Suarez is in the squad to face the Italian champions.
However, Andres Iniesta remains a doubt, and asked if the Spaniard will play on Tuesday night, Valverde said that his minutes will be managed as the championship advances. “We must not forget what Iniesta is for us, but we must also keep in mind his age and that he plays in a demanding position,” he said.
When asked about the prospect of facing Juventus, the Blaugrana boss remained optimistic but said, “Juventus are a powerful team that distribute the ball well from the back and who try to press high. They have a great coach and great players, all of whom must be taken into account, not just Dybala.”
As far as Juventus are concerned, Massimiliano Allegri looks like he has to deal with some injury concerns. Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio have been ruled out of Tuesday’s game against Barcelona, as confirmed by the manager.
Neither midfielder played a part in Saturday’s 3-0 Serie A win against Chievo, and they will not recover in time for Juve’s opening Group D fixture. The Italians will also be without Giorgio Chiellini with the Italian defender struggling to recover from a calf injury.
Meanwhile, Mario Mandzukic came off with a knock against Chievo but Allegri is hoping the Croatian and full-back Alex Sandro will be available. But, Juan Cuadrado is unavailable as he serves his one-game ban following his dismissal in last season’s final against Real Madrid.
At his pre-match press conference, the Juventus boss gave his Spanish rivals credit where it was due but also remained hopeful of sealing a positive result.
“It is actually strange to see Barcelona with three new players. They’ve lost Neymar and replaced him with a youngster in (Ousmane) Dembelé, but they remain, along with Real, one of the two strongest teams in the world,” Allegri said.
“Juventus, meanwhile, have changed a lot and changed well over an extended period now thanks to plenty of good work carried out by the club. Both teams have kicked on very well, ” the manager concluded.