In the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie, Barcelona host Eusebio Di Francesco’s AS Roma side at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
According to their official squad list, four players have been left out of the 18-man-squad – Philippe Coutinho due to ineligibility, former Giallorossi defender Lucas Digne due to injury and Aleix Vidal and Yerry Mina due to lack of places in the squad as Barcelona prepare to host AS Roma on Wednesday.
The best piece of news is that Sergio Busquets has returned to the squad after regaining full fitness from a toe injury. Nelson Semedo is also expected to be fit enough to start the clash against Roma. The Blaugrana are expected to retain their 4-4-2 formation for this tie.
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Marc-Andre ter Stegen is expected to start in goal, while Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti are likely to retain their places in the starting XI, with the inclusion of Nelson Semedo expected to be the only change to the defence that started Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla.
Andres Iniesta, Paulinho, Ousmane Dembele should be joined by Sergio Busquets in midfield, with Ivan Rakitic expected to be dropped to the bench. Iniesta is expected to start on the left of midfield, with Dembele on the right and Busquets and Paulinho in the middle. Upfront, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are certain to start.
This will be the fifth time these two sides will take each other on in the Champions League and while both sides have won one match each in this tie, it is Barcelona who have the more fonder memories. The last time these two sides met, Barcelona thrashed the Romans 6-1 at Camp Nou.
However, that was over two years ago and Valverde will be well aware that once the whistle blows, all bets are off. Speaking about the opposition in his press conference, he said, “Roma are no surprise package, if you look at their matches in the group stages, they played really well.”
The 54-year-old insisted that this was an exciting tie that his side were looking forward. He then went on to say that when the match starts, anything could happen, before adding that playing in the Serie A, “guarantees that they [Roma] will be competitive.”