Ernesto Valverde has a potential defensive crisis at hand as Barcelona travel to the Mestalla to face a struggling Valencia on Sunday.
Barcelona are without a win in the league for three games now. Ernesto Valverde will be relieved at the fact that the other clubs have faltered as well. But, the manager will be looking to snap the winless streak with a positive performance against Valencia at Mestalla.
While Barcelona come into the match on the back of a good recent history at Mestalla, Ernesto Valverde highlighted in his pre-match conference that Sunday’s clash will be a tricky one while highlighting that the midfield could decide the game.
“It’s always difficult to play at Mestalla. They’re tough games because they’re charged with emotion. Valencia vs Barça is one of the biggest games in La Liga. They haven’t started off as well as in other years, but they have a solid foundation. We’ll have to come out strong in the midfield to dominate the game.”
Sergi Roberto is out with an injury while Samuel Umtiti is still sidelined with an ankle issue. Nelson Semedo should deputise in Roberto’s stead. In central defence, Clement Lenglet will be looking to impress as he partners Gerard Pique in the absence of Umtiti.
Sergi Samper and Carles Alena have not been included in the traveling squad, which could be chalked as an ill-effect of Barcelona’s recently found penchant of preferring experienced buys instead of trusting La Masia academy products.
In midfield of the 4-3-3 formation, which is likely to be retained by Ernesto Valverde, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are certain starters on Sunday. The third spot could go to Arthur Melo after his impressive performance against Tottenham in the Champions League. Arturo Vidal could also be an option.
With Luis Suarez doubtful for the game and not really enjoying a bright spell in front of goal, Valverde could go with Lionel Messi in a central role, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele out wide to support the Argentine forward. Malcom is also included in the traveling squad. But, the summer arrival is likely to be named on the bench once again.