Ernesto Valverde will make wholesale changes while Alex Collado is set for his first-team debut for Barcelona when they take on Celta Vigo at Balaidos.
Barcelona will be looking to continue their winning run when they go head-to-head with Celta Vigo at Balaidos on Saturday night. And, Ernesto Valverde is set to ring in the changes, keeping one eye on the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool next week.
During his pre-match press conference, the Barcelona manager confirmed that he will play a number of fringe players, with a number of regulars being rested, as had been the case when the Blaugrana took on Huesca ahead of the return leg against Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals.
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“We made a lot of changes against Huesca and the team was highly motivated. I’m not saying it’ll be the same eleven tomorrow, but the intention will be to go out and win. Some of the less regular players will get a chance, but I want us to keep competing as hard as we can. We have a cup final ahead of us and we need to be prepared. So even if I mix things up a bit, I want to field a competitive side.”
Indeed, Valverde has left the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and several others out of the travelling squad to face Celta Vigo. With ter Stegen being rested, Jasper Cillessen is set to make his first La Liga appearance of the season, something the Barcelona boss alluded to in his presser (h/t Barca Blaugranes)
“I could use him for the last few games in La Liga. Each time there’s been a chance during the season, he’s played. We’re happy with him, he’s a great goalkeeper and the goalkeeper position is very special.”
The changes in personnel should also bring about a shift in the formation, with Valverde expected to prefer a style similar to the one he employed against Huesca. With that in mind, the back-three ought to feature Samuel Umtiti, Jeison Murillo and Thomas Vermaelen.
Moussa Wague is likely to be handed his second senior start for Barcelona and will be the right wing-back, with Nelson Semedo expected to slot in on the opposite flank. The central midfield partnership should feature Carles Alena and Jean-Clair Todibo, who has prior experience of playing as a defensive midfielder.
Up ahead in attack, the absence of Suarez means Kevin-Prince Boateng should lead the line for Barcelona against Celta Vigo. Flanking the Ghanaian, should be Ousmane Dembele and Malcom, two wide men who have a point to prove.
Meanwhile, there should be opportunities off the bench for La Masia graduates Riqui Puig and Alex Collado, with the latter expected to make his first-team debut on the night. And, if needed, Philippe Coutinho will be an option for Valverde as well.