Ernesto Valverde might hand Samuel Umtiti a start when Barcelona face off against Sevilla in matchweek 25 of La Liga on Saturday.
Reigning champions Barcelona will travel to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium this weekend, as they gear up to take on Pablo Machin’s Sevilla outfit in La Liga.
Barcelona haven’t been in the best of form recently, having won just one of their last five matches in all competitions and will be aiming to generate some steam on Saturday, ahead of a double-header against arch-rivals Real Madrid over the coming week. That could also force manager Ernesto Valverde to tinker with his selection for Saturday’s trip to Andalusia.
No changes are expected in goal, however, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen the undisputed first-choice keeper for the Blaugrana. There are likely to be some alterations in defence, with Nelson Semedo in line to be rested, which would mean Sergi Roberto moves to right-back, having started in midfield in the 0-0 draw against Lyon earlier this week.
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Jordi Alba will be retained on the left side of the defence, while Gerard Pique is also likely to hold on to his spot at the centre of the backline. Samuel Umtiti is in line to start alongside the former Spain international, having returned to full fitness.
Dropping a hint that the Frenchman might feature on Saturday, manager Valverde said in his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “We think that Umtiti’s ready to start. Vermaelen is out injured, Lenglet has a yellow to go to complete the cycle. We all know the ability Sam has. The situation is what it is and we will see what day it is when he plays.”
Arthur Melo is back in light training, but Saturday’s game will come to soon for the Brazilian. Compatriot Rafinha also remains sidelined for Barcelona. There could be a couple of tweaks in the middle of the park, with Arturo Vidal and Carles Alena likely to start, having not started against Lyon, while Sergio Busquets should be part of the lineup again. Ivan Rakitic could be afforded some rest.
Philippe Coutinho hasn’t started the last two matches for Barcelona and could be brought into the lineup on Saturday, with Ousmane Dembele likely to be rested ahead of the Real Madrid clash. Given Barcelona’s recent form, they cannot afford to leave Lionel Messi out of the starting XI against a top-four opposition. The captain will line up on the right flank.
Leading the line for Barcelona will be misfiring striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has hit a lean patch of form, but manager Valverde claimed in his press conference that he has complete faith in the 32-year-old to bounce back strongly.
“Luis Suarez guarantees we’ll have chances in each match, so it’d be difficult to go without him. The questions about Suarez are curious. I’ve had them before, then they disappear. We’re talking about the fifth top scorer in the club’s history. The only thing he can do is persevere and be patient,” the manager said.
Having not scored in his last five appearances, Suarez will be hoping to find his goalscoring boots on Saturday, with two El Clasico fixtures lined up after this.