Ernesto Valverde is without two first-team players as Barcelona prepare to welcome Valencia to Camp Nou on Saturday.
Barcelona will look to put the disappointment of their midweek Champions League loss to AS Roma behind them when they play hosts to Valencia at Camp Nou on Saturday. With the Blaugrana on the cusp of history, Ernesto Valverde will at least be buoyed by the fact that he does not have many players unavailable.
Only four first-team players have missed the cut for the Barcelona manager’s matchday squad, with Lucas Digne (hamstring) and Ivan Rakitic (hand) recovering from their respective injuries, while Yerry Mina and Aleix Vidal have been excluded due to lack of spaces in the squad.
Valverde, meanwhile, said in his pre-match press conference that there are absolutely no problems with the physical conditions of those who have made his matchday squad, iterating, “From a physical point of view we are well placed to face the final stretch.”
With Digne still on the sidelines, the Barcelona boss has no choice but to continue deploying Jordi Alba at left-back. Alongside the Spaniard in the back four, should be Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen taking his place between the sticks.
In midfield, Rakitic has missed out after undergoing surgery following the Roma loss. The Croat is now aiming to be back in contention for the Copa del Rey final, and will definitely miss out on Saturday. Valverde could also hand a rest to Sergio Busquets, who looked far from 100 per cent fit on Tuesday.
In the duo’s absence, Paulinho and Andre Gomes are likely to line up at the heart of the Barcelona midfield. In the wide midfield areas, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho are expected to return to the side and take up what have almost become customary positions for them in recent weeks.
Upfront, the strike partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez should continue once again, with Paco Alcacer an option off the bench. Messi and Suarez though, will be eager to set the record straight after a horrible night against Roma, when they weren’t given an inch to exploit and were kept uncharacteristically quiet.