Ernesto Valverde has chosen not to call up Lucas Digne and Denis Suarez for their trip to Valencia as Barcelona look to book their spot in the final of the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona take a slender 1-0 lead to the Mestalla on Thursday as Valencia await their visit for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals. However, Ernesto Valverde has chosen to travel without Denis Suarez and Lucas Digne as Barcelona eye a spot in the final of the Copa del Rey, where the winner of this match would meet Sevilla, who booked their spot on Wednesday.
Apart from the aforementioned duo, summer signing Ousmane Dembele and veteran Thomas Vermaelen both miss out on the second leg tie, with the two still recuperating from their respective injuries. One positive news is the inclusion of Gerard Pique in the 18-man traveling squad.
Jasper Cillessen is likely to assume his position in goal as has been Valverde’s selection policy so far. In front of the Dutch stopper, Samuel Umtiti is a certain starter but it is likely to be a toss as far as his partner – Gerard Pique – is concerned.
The experienced campaigner was touted to be out for two weeks with a knee injury suffered in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw against local rivals Espanyol in the league over the weekend. But, the defender has been included in the matchday squad, with hopes that Pique could very well start against Valencia on Thusrday.
Valverde though, was coy on the prospect of Pique starting the match when asked about the aforementioned in the pre-match conference, stating that the club would assess his fitness level from Wednesday onwards before taking a call.
“We will see him in training on Wednesday and then we will see if he can play or not.”
In case Pique is unable to be fit in time, we could see Yerry Mina take the field alongside Umtiti, with Jordi Alba also another sure name to start, with Lucas Digne not included in the matchday squad. At right-back though, Valverde could again opt to start Sergi Roberto ahead of Nelson Semedo, with the former showing some form at the position recently.
As far as the other spots are concerned, they are likely to depend on Valverde’s choice of formation. While the manager has opted for a 4-4-2 in recent times, we expect him to revert to a 4-3-3, with Sergio Busquets the Anchor Man while Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic are expected to make up the numbers in midfield.
We should ideally see the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez start upfront, a mouth-watering prospect for Barcelona fans and neutrals as well.