Summer signing Clement Lenglet is in line to make his debut for Barcelona, when they take on SD Huesca at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Reigning champions Barcelona will welcome newly promoted side Huesca to Camp Nou this weekend, on matchday three of the 2018-19 La Liga.
Having started the new season with back-to-back victories over Alaves and Real Valladolid, the Blaugrana will be intent on making it three out of three as they look to keep up with arch-rivals Real Madrid, who are perched at the top of the table, with nine points from three games.
Denis Suarez still remains sidelined for the Catalans and so do talented young midfielders Sergi Samper and Carles Alena. Defender Thomas Vermaelen and midfielder Rafinha have been left out of the 18-man matchday squad by the manager.
Goalkeeper Jasper Cilessen, who missed the last game with a bruised rib, is back in the squad, after being cleared by the medical team. The Dutchman’s return will have no bearing on the goalkeeping spot in the starting XI though, with German international Marc-Andre ter Stegen set to continue between the sticks on Sunday.
At right-back, Sergi Roberto is expected to keep Portuguese defender Nelson Semedo out once again, with Jordi Alba set to start on the opposite side of the back four. The left-back was snubbed by Spain manager Luis Enrique for the upcoming set of international fixtures and Valverde urged his player not to lose focus over it and keep working hard.
“He has to wait for an opportunity to get back into the squad without going crazy, just like all players who don’t get called up by their national teams,” the Barcelona boss said in his press conference on Saturday.
“Jordi has to manage [the disappointment] in the same way other players have to manage it: by working hard and focusing on his game and on [Barcelona].”
Seasoned campaigner Gerard Pique will lead the defence for the Catalans. But there could be a change alongside him, with new arrival Clement Lenglet likely to get the nod ahead of compatriot Samuel Umtiti for Sunday’s assignment.
Sergio Busquets is expected hold on to his place in the middle of the park against the Aragon based outfit, along with Croatian international Ivan Rakitic and Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho. That would mean, the duo of Arthur Melo and Arturo Vidal will have to continue to wait for their full La Liga debut for the club.
After a stellar start to the season against Alaves, club captain Lionel Messi had a subdued outing against Real Valladolid last time out. He will come into the upcoming fixture with all guns blazing and will make life hard for the Huesca defence.
21-year-old Ousmane Dembele has started the new season on a strong note. The Frenchman scored the only goal of the game last weekend. Speaking of the attacker, Valverde said, “He’s working very hard and we hope he has continuity throughout the season.”
He should keep his spot out on the left side of the attacking trident, while the misfiring Luis Suarez is likely to be backed by the manager to lead the line on Sunday.