Sergio Busquets will be one of five players missing out for Barcelona as they get set to welcome Valencia to Camp Nou in a Matchday 22 tie on Saturday.
Barcelona will be aiming to make it nine wins in a row in La Liga stretching back to November when they play hosts to a resurgent Valencia side at Camp Nou on Saturday evening. Ernesto Valverde though, has received a double setback ahead of the visit of Los Che.
Jasper Cillessen, who was one of the heroes in Barcelona’s 6-1 win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, sustained a calf injury during training on Friday and is now sidelined for up to six weeks. The injury to the Dutchman has a huge bearing on their Copa del Rey campaign, where he has been an ever present.
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As far as league football is concerned, Valverde relies on Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but will now be hoping the Barcelona no. 1 does not pick up an injury himself. The German’s backup will be Inaki Pena for the foreseeable future, with the Barcelona B goalkeeper also a part of the matchday squad to face Valencia.
There is some good news in addition to the bad as well, with Samuel Umtiti resuming light training this week. The Frenchman though, is still some way of regaining full fitness, and is only likely to be available some time next month. Another French centre-back, deadline day signing Jean-Clair Todibo will not be involved either.
Valverde talked about Barcelona’s intentions for the teenager during his pre-match press conference, as he iterated, “He’s a player that we were originally going to sign next year but given the circumstances at his old club, we decided to finalise the deal in January, so that he can get to know his new team-mates and our style of play.”
While Jeison Murillo and Thomas Vermaelen are possible options, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet should continue at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Valencia not a side to be taken lightly. Jordi Alba is the only option for the left-back slot, but Valverde will make a rotation on the opposite flank, with Nelson Semedo replacing Sergi Roberto.
In midfield, Barcelona will be without the services of Rafinha and Sergio Busquets, the latter owing to his suspension due to accumulation of yellow cards. In the veteran Spaniard’s stead, Ivan Rakitic should drop down to the holding midfield slot, with Arturo Vidal taking up the third vacant slot in the unit that will also comprise of Arthur.
Up ahead in attack, there has been some more positive news, with Ousmane Dembele nearing his return to action, as Valverde confirmed, “We will asses him on Monday to see how he is. We think he could be back next week, but I don’t have a firm answer.”
In his absence though, Philippe Coutinho will continue on the left flank, following a promising outing against Sevilla. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are certain starters, with Malcom being a backup option.