Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde as hinted at the possibility of rotating his troops for their UEFA Champions League group game against Tottenham Hotspur.
Barcelona will go head to head against Premier League heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur in their last Group B encounter of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
The Catalans have been confirmed as the group winners, having accumulated 13 points from 5 matches and will be under no pressure heading into the match, unlike their opponents. And manager Ernesto Valverde has claimed that he is likely to rest some of his players for the midweek encounter.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference prior to the game, the 54-year-old said, “There are sure to be rotations tomorrow; we just had a big game on Saturday. Players need rest and we had a tough match last Saturday, Spurs are going to bring their best players, not necessarily something that we can do. The players have some discomfort so I have to take that into account.”
No changes are expected in goal, however, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen expected to hold on to his spot ahead of Jasper Cillessen. Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti continue to be absent for the Catalans, meaning the back four of Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba is also unlikely to be tinkered with on Tuesday night.
Summer signing Arthur Melo is fit again and has been included in the 19-man matchday squad by the manager, after he missed the last few games with an adductor problem. The Brazilian international should walk right back into the starting XI against Spurs, with Ivan Rakitic likely to be given a breather.
Philippe Coutinho was omitted from the starting lineup for Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Espanyol in the La Liga at the weekend. And Valverde hinted that he is likely to return to the starting setup for the European encounter on Tuesday.
“Philippe is very important for us. He played in the second half the other night and is another option. We want to support him to give us the best he can, as he is a decisive player,” the manager told the media. The Brazilian could replace Arturo Vidal in midfield, starting alongside Arthur and mainstay Sergio Busquets.
Wholesale changes in attack are also on the cards for Barcelona, with Valverde set to leave star attackers Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi out of the playing XI for Tuesday’s game.
“After being without him [Messi] for several games I don’t know if we’ll have him out there for two games in three days. But Luis Suarez is definitely not going to play,” the former Athletic Bilbao boss said in his presser.
Academy graduate Munir El Haddadi is expected to step into Suarez’s shoes as the centre-forward against Tottenham, with Ousmane Dembele set to feature out on the right flank. Denis Suarez, who scored a double in his last appearance against Cultural Leonesa last week, is in line for a start on the left wing.