Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are among a host of players that are set to return to the starting lineup when Barcelona host Manchester United at Camp Nou.
Barcelona will be aiming to complete the job they started last week and qualify for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, when they welcome Manchester United to Camp Nou on Tuesday night for the second leg of their quarter-final tie.
The Blaugrana have a slender 1-0 lead after last week’s first leg, and Ernesto Valverde rested 10 of the starters from that game against Huesca this past weekend. While some of the decisions were forced due to minor injuries, the Barcelona boss will be buoyed by the availability of all his key players on Tuesday.
In goal, there is no doubt as to who the preferred choice will be, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen set to start between the sticks once again. The plethora of changes will start coming into effect in front of him, with the defensive line expected to have an entirely new look.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 15, 2019
While Jean-Clair Todibo impressed on his Barcelona debut against Huesca, Gerard Pique should take his place back at the heart of the Barcelona defence, while Clement Lenglet will likely replace Samuel Umtiti. In the left-back slot, there is no looking past Jordi Alba.
On the opposite flank, however, there will be a toss-up between Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto. While Semedo was professional in his display last week, Valverde could seek for more defensive astuteness this time around against Manchester United, meaning the fit again Sergi Roberto should get the nod.
In the middle of the park, the three-man axis picks itself for games of such stature. Arthur will be the playmaker for Barcelona, while Sergio Busquets will play the Anchor Man role, with Ivan Rakitic being the workhorse.
The big talking point heading into the second leg though, was the fitness of Lionel Messi. The Barcelona captain was rested this past weekend due to a minor facial injury he received at the hands of Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling. But, Valverde confirmed during his pre-match press conference (h/t London Evening Standard) that Messi is fit to start.
“He [Messi] is perfectly fine. He was already fine after a couple of days. During the game, he was a little dazed, but there is no problem for tomorrow.”
Another player who has been making his way back from injury lately is Ousmane Dembele. The French attacker started against Huesca, but wasn’t at his fluent best. When quizzed on the chances of Dembele starting against Manchester United as well, Valverde said that the young winger could feature.
“Dembele could start. The players who start the game will be important, as will the players who finish it. Because we have seen how Manchester United finish their games… He is in condition to participate. I don’t know if he is ready to play 90 minutes, but he is ready to take part.”
Dembele though, is unlikely to get the nod over Philippe Coutinho on the night, while Luis Suarez should lead the line for Barcelona, looking to break his duck in the UEFA Champions League this season, while Messi is a certain starter.