Barcelona will be without defensive mainstay Samuel Umtiti for their trip to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona return to Champions League action this week, as they face off against Premier League heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur in their second Group B encounter at Wembley on Wednesday night.
The reigning La Liga champions find themselves going through a bit of a rough patch, having been unable to pick up a victory in their last three league encounters. And, manager Ernesto Valverde will be hoping to bring an end to the winless run against the North London outfit in the midweek fixture.
Barcelona, however, will have to make do without two of their regular members in defence as first-choice right-back Sergi Roberto is out with an injury, while centre-back Samuel Umtiti is recovering from a knee injury, and would have missed out due to suspension, having picked up a red card in the Catalans’ 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League opener.
Valverde has also decided to leave out new signing Malcom, who was a summer transfer target for Tottenham, from the matchday squad that has travelled to London for the tie. Academy graduates Carles Alena and Sergi Samper are also among the absentees from the travelling party.
German international Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the undisputed no. 1 for Barcelona and will start in goal at Wembley on Wednesday. In the absence of Roberto, Nelson Semedo should get the nod at right-back against Tottenham, while Jordi Alba will continue on the opposite side of the back four.
Gerard Pique will start at the heart of the Barcelona defence for the Catalans and in the absence of his regular partner at the back, Umtiti, summer arrival Clement Lenglet will make his first Champions League start for the Blaugrana.
A switch to the 4-4-2 formation is on the cards for Barcelona, which would see Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic shunted out in an unfamiliar position on the right flank, while Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho will find himself on the left side of the midfield.
In the centre of the park will be anchorman Sergio Busquets, partnered by summer signing Arturo Vidal, who will provide the physical presence and energy in the midfield engine room.
Having shockingly omitted club captain Lionel Messi from the starting lineup in the 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, Valverde is set to recall the Argentine superstar to the starting XI at Wembley.
Questions over Luis Suarez’s form have resurfaced after the Uruguayan has gone without a goal for four games in a row. The centre-forward, shockingly, hasn’t netted an away goal in the Champions League for a mind-boggling 1113 days. However, Valverde said that he has confidence in the marksman and is backing him to come good on Wednesday.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Barcelona manager said, “He [Suarez] has a good goal scoring record, is a player who gives us a lot and doesn’t go missing.”
The former Liverpool man should start on Wednesday, meaning there will be no space for Munir El Haddadi, who scored the only goal for Barcelona against Ahtletic Bilbao this past weekend.