Madrid, Oct 17 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will almost certainly use his side’s Champions League tie against Olympiakos on Wednesday to carry out a series of squad rotations.
The game comes five days after Barca’s demanding Liga Santander game away to Atletico Madrid, which put an end to their 100 percent record in the domestic competition, and with another league game at home to Malaga just three days later, Valverde will take the opportunity to rest some players, reports Xinhua news agency.
Leo Messi is unlikely to rest however, and he will lead the attack along with Luis Suarez, but other players such as Gerard Pique or Ivan Rakitic could start the game on the bench, while Javier Mascherano and Paulinho start.
Valverde could also consider giving winger Gerard Deulofeu a place in the starting 11 following his display as a substitute in the Wanda Metropolitano at the weekend.
The Barca coach has earned praise for the way he has managed his squad this season since replacing Luis Enrique in the dugout and also how he has looked for solutions following the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain and the injury suffered by Neymar’s replacement Ousmane Dembele, who is out of action with a knee injury.
Wednesday sees Valverde face one of his former clubs as he enjoyed two successful spells coaching Olympiakos, winning three league titles and two cups in Greece during his time there.
Wins at home to Juventus and away to Sporting Lisbon have put Barca in an enviable position in their qualifying group and a win on Wednesday would almost seal their place in the knockout stage of the tournament.
After a defeat and a draw from their first group matches, Atletico Madrid are in a less enviable situation and need to take all three points when they play Qarabag, the minnows of their group, in Baku.