Malcom could be handed a rare start while Jasper Cillessen has been cleared fit to play as Barcelona meet Cultural Leonesa in a Copa Del Rey tie on Wednesday.
Following the end of the international break, Barcelona have managed to yield a string of positive results, having mustered three wins in three matches in all competitions. Their 5-1 triumph over arch-rivals Real Madrid last weekend dropped a statement of intent across Europe and we can expect them to continue in similar vein when they meet Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday.
The Blaugrana are expected to make a host of changes when they face the Spanish minnows in their Copa Del Rey tie. There was a lot of speculations regarding the fitness of Jasper Cillessen going into this game. The Dutch international was suffering from illness but has been cleared fit by head coach Ernesto Valverde.
When asked about the goalkeeper during his pre-match press conference, Valverde commented that Cillessen is fine while also suggesting that he will utilise a number of fringe and youth players, having called up the likes of Chumi, Inaki Pena, Juan Miranda, Jorge Cuenca, Lana Cerevic and Riqui Puig.
“He [Cillessen] is fine. He had a bad day yesterday but he’s OK today and will play tomorrow. We’re very happy with him and the game will do him good. We need to avoid surprises and play a good game because our opponents will be playing at 200%. We’ll be using some players that don’t get to play as much and there are high hopes pinned on them.”
Chumi and Jorge Cuenca could pair up at the heart of the Barcelona defence while the highly rated Juan Miranda will replace Jordi Alba as the left-back. Nelson Semedo is a certainty on the right. His experience could be key in maintaining a backline that is brimming with youthful exuberance.
In midfield, Arturo Vidal should replace Sergio Busquets as the holding midfielder. He will be partnered likely by Denis Suarez and Riqui Puig at the base of Barcelona’s 4-3-3. Puig has raised a lot of eyebrows in training and will be one to look forward to this week.
And finally, in attack, Malcom could be given a rare start against Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday. The Brazilian sensation has made only two league appearances this season and will be itching to impress the Barcelona boss with a strong performance against a lowly Leonesa defence. He will be deployed as the right winger while Ousmane Dembele will start on the left.
Barcelona will be missing out on the services of Lionel Messi, while Luis Suarez will be given a breather amid a congested schedule. Thus, we could expect Valverde to start Munir El Haddadi as the central striker for Barcelona in the cup tie.