Barcelona have been boosted by the return of captain and talisman Lionel Messi for their UEFA Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund.
Barcelona will be aiming to kickstart their 2019-20 UEFA Champions League campaign with a victory when they clash against German giants Borussia Dortmund in their opening Group F encounter at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night.
Ahead of their trip to Germany, Barcelona have been handed a huge boost as captain Lionel Messi has recovered from the thigh injury that has kept him out of action so far this term. Summer signing Neto has also been passed fit, but the Catalans continue to be without the services of Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.
Neto might be back to full fitness, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the undisputed first-choice between the sticks and should definitely start on his return to Germany on Tuesday.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 16, 2019
There are unlikely to be any changes to the backline either with Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba slotting in as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. And with Umtiti still ruled out, Gerard Pique should continue to partner Clement Lenglet at the heart of the defence.
Valverde is spoilt for choices in the midfield department, given the number of top quality options at his disposal. While there might be a temptation to use someone as experienced as Ivan Rakitic, the manager might decide to stick with the trifecta that worked very well against Valencia last time out, meaning Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong start again with Sergio Busquets.
As mentioned previously, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi is fit again and is in the 22-man squad named by the manager for the trip to Germany.
Speaking of the Argentine’s condition in his pre-match presser, Valverde said (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “He has improved a lot. We’ll decide tomorrow [if he’ll play]. We weren’t sure a week ago if he’d be ready in time, but there’s been a lot of progress. In the last training session, he finished well and the fear of feeling pain is leaving his head.”
However, it is unlikely that Valverde will risk rushing Messi back into action straight away and look to use him from the bench on Tuesday night. Luis Suarez, who returned to action at the weekend and grabbed a brace against Valencia, should spearhead the attack for Barcelona, with star summer acquisition Antoine Griezmann starting on the left flank.
The final spot will be a toss-up between two academy products Carles Perez and Ansu Fati. However, after another sensational performance last weekend, Fati deserves to get the nod against Dortmund on Tuesday night.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, de Jong; Fati, Suarez, Griezmann