Ernesto Valverde will make wholesale changes to his Barcelona side that lost to Celta Vigo, for their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool.
Barcelona will be aiming to reach their first ever UEFA Champions League final under manager Ernesto Valverde, when they take on Liverpool in the second leg of their semi-final tie at Anfield.
The Catalans come into Tuesday night’s game with one foot already in the finals, thanks to a commanding 3-0 win in the first leg at Camp Nou. They will now need to guard against complacency and get the job done in what will be their third trip to England in this season’s Champions League.
Manager Ernesto Valverde opted to rest all of his first-team regulars for Barcelona’s weekend La Liga clash against Celta Vigo, which they lost 2-0. He is expected to field a full-strength side on Tuesday, starting with recalling first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to the lineup, after having gone with Jasper Cillessen at the weekend.
The entire backline is in for a restructuring on Tuesday, with Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba set to return as the two full-backs in place of Moussa Wague and Thomas Vermaelen. Jean-Clair Todibo, who started in defence against Celta, is ineligible for the Champions League and should make way for Gerard Pique, while Clement Lenglet is set to replace compatriot Samuel Umtiti.
Arturo Vidal was one of the few regulars who made a brief appearance against Celta. The Chilean is expected to feature from the get-go against Liverpool, to provide a physical presence in the engine room. Alongside him, midfield lynchpin Sergio Busquets will line up in the deepest position, while Croatian international Ivan Rakitic is also set for a return to the team.
There is one injury concern for Barcelona in the attacking department heading into the game against Jurgen Klopp’s side. 2018 World Cup winner Ousmane Dembele has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that he picked up early in the game against Celta Vigo.
Speaking of the Frenchman in his pre-match press conference Valverde said (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “We were able to rest some players to avoid injuries. But we had Dembele injured. We don’t know the influence he could have, but Dembele missing is a problem because when you have a team that concedes spaces, it’s important to have players who can break.”
This means Philippe Coutinho is guaranteed to start for Barcelona on the left side of the attacking trident. The Brazilian left Liverpool to join the Catalans in January last year and will be hoping to mark his return to Anfield with a match-winning display.
Another former Liverpool star certain to feature on Tuesday night is star striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan scored in the first leg and celebrated wildly, which did not go down well with the Reds’ supporters. It will be interesting to see what kind of a reception Suarez gets at Anfield. Finally, rounding up the attack for Barcelona will be club captain Lionel Messi.