Barcelona will clash against French giants Olympique Lyon in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday night.
Having ended a three-game winless streak this past weekend, Barcelona will be aiming to register their second win in four days, when they go head to head against Olympique Lyon in France in the UEFA Champions League.
Ernesto Valverde’s side returned to winning ways on Saturday after three consecutive draws, as they beat Real Valladolid 1-0 at home. They will now be hoping to carry that momentum forward to the continental stage and come away with a positive result from Lyon by gaining a significant advantage heading into the second leg at Camp Nou.
Having rested a few key members of the squad for the game against Valladolid, manager Valverde is likely to make a few changes to the team for their trip to Lyon. The Catalans will, however, be without second-choice keeper Jasper Cillesen as he continues to recover from a calf issue, while Thomas Vermaelen, who featured at the weekend, also misses out with an injury.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 17, 2019
But, the biggest news coming out of the Barcelona camp is the return of Samuel Umtiti. The Frenchman has missed a large chunk of the season with injuries, but has been passed fit for the game against his former club and has travelled with the squad to France.
Speaking of the World Cup winner in his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Valverde said, “He’s not insisted to me to play at all. I’ve not spoken with him about it. He is coming because the medical team have passed him fit. Vermaelen is injured and Umtiti is a great player. For now, he’s in the 21-man squad, which will have to become 18. Then I have to pick 11, so we will see what happens.”
Despite his inclusion in the travelling party, Umtiti is unlikely to start against Lyon, with Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet set to get the nod in central defence. Nelson Semedo should return at right-back, having not featured in the weekend game, while Jordi Alba is expected to complete the backline that will shield goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
There are no fresh injury concerns for Barcelona in the middle of the park, although Arthur and Rafinha remain sidelined. Carles Alena started against Valladolid at the weekend, but is likely to make way for mainstay Ivan Rakitic in the middle of the park. Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal are expected to be retained in the other two midfield slots.
The fit-again Ousmane Dembele is likely to edge out Philippe Coutinho for a starting berth on the left once again. Luis Suarez is expected to replace Kevin-Prince Boateng as the striker, after making a substitute appearance against Valladolid. The Uruguayan missed several chances at the weekend, but Valverde expressed confidence in his striker.
“When Luis is on the pitch we know he’s going to have chances. More importantly, the opposition know that too. He came on for 30 minutes [against Valladolid] and could have scored a hat-trick. He is so important because of what he does and what he does for those around him.”
Joining Suarez and Dembele in the attacking trio should be captain Lionel Messi, who is a certain starter whenever fully fit.