Ousmane Dembele and Carles Alena are expected to return to the starting lineup when Barcelona welcome Real Valladolid to Camp Nou on Saturday.
Barcelona will be desperate to end a three-game draw streak and return to winning ways when they play hosts to Real Valladolid at the Nou Camp on Saturday. And, Ernesto Valverde does not have any fresh injury concerns hampering his preparations for this weekend’s tie.
During his pre-match press conference, Barcelona manager, was asked to comment on the one-year contract extension he signed on Friday before he went on to assert the importance of returning to winning ways in the midst of a gruelling schedule.
“The renewal was a simple decision for me. The Club and the team are good and everything progressed naturally. We start a sequence of games in which we play in three competitions. We want to win again in La Liga.”
Valverde was quizzed about when Samuel Umtiti would return to action, with the Frenchman now in full training. While the Barcelona boss was coy on the return date, his comments suggest (h/t Goal) the defender is progressing well.
“Look, the Lyon game is after tomorrow’s game so we have some margin to decide and to see what he can do. He hasn’t played for a long time but he is a very important member of the squad and we need him for future games. I don’t know [if his return will be] tomorrow or the next game, we will be analysing his performances, so let’s wait and see.”
Umtiti though, has been excluded from the matchday squad by Valverde, meaning the visit of Valladolid has come too soon for him. In his absence, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet should continue at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto completing the backline that will provide cover to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
In midfield, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are certain starters, with the final spot in the three-man axis up for grabs. Arthur is still unavailable due to a hamstring injury, while Arturo Vidal was poor last weekend against Athletic Bilbao, meaning Carles Alena is likely to get a chance to impress on Saturday.
Up ahead in attack, Valverde has all his resources available to him, with Ousmane Dembele now fit and available. Dembele should return to the starting lineup, with Philippe Coutinho likely to drop out. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are automatic selections as well, and should join Dembele in the final third.