Ernesto Valverde is poised to field his strongest available eleven when Barcelona welcome Borussia Dortmund to Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Barcelona will have an opportunity to seal their place in the knockout rounds of this edition’s UEFA Champions League with one game to spare when they play hosts to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. Ernesto Valverde, unfortunately, will have to deal with the absence of a few of his key players.
Gerard Pique, in particular, will not feature in this fixture as he is serving a one-match ban. His absence will create a huge void in the Barcelona defence. Barcelona did, however, provide an update to Clement Lenglet’s fitness. “Clément Lenglet received medical clearance and thus formed part of the squad called up by Valverde,” the club confirmed via their website.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 26, 2019
The Barcelona manager also spoke of Lenglet in his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), insisting the Frenchman will likely be fit to start against Borussia Dortmund.
“He picked up a calf problem with France and we didn’t risk him. But he trained on Monday and we think he will be OK for Wednesday. Pique is out but we also have Samuel, who did well at Leganes, and then there’s the possibility of Todibo and Araujo.”
Lenglet could, therefore return to the backline and will start alongside compatriot Samuel Umtiti. Valverde has more worries in the defensive department, with Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo also ruled out due to injury.
That means both Sergi Roberto and Junior Firpo should get a berth in the starting lineup. As for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, he is a guaranteed starter in goal, having starred in the 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture back in September. In midfield, Frenkie de Jong is destined to retain his place in central midfield.
Dutchman de Jong is likely to be supported by the midfield duo of Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal, whose experience of playing against Borussia Dortmund could be useful. The Chilean has also impressed of late, meaning he could get the nod ahead of Arthur, who was also one of the subjects discussed by Valverde during his presser.
“Arthur’s exclusion the other day was because of a coaching decision. He returned well from the Brazil team. Sometimes he has been a starter and sometimes he has not. He has to win his position.”
In attack, Valverde has a choice to make between Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann. Dembele might pip Griezmann due to his past association with the visitors. Elsewhere, both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are guaranteed starters in the final third. Messi, in particular, will be key to Barcelona’s chances against Dortmund after settling for a place on the bench in the reverse fixture.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Lenglet, Firpo; Vidal, Busquets, de Jong; Messi, Suarez, Dembele