Ernesto Valverde set to ring in the changes for Barcelona's trip to Celta Vigo

Andy Hampson 16/04/2018
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Valverde has promised changes for the Celta Vigo clash.

Ernesto Valverde is set to make changes as La Liga leaders Barcelona head to Celta Vigo on Tuesday.

Barca can move within four points of claiming the title with victory at Balaidos but coach Valverde must also take Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Sevilla into account.

The Catalan giants, who are 11 points clear at the top of the table with six games remaining, have endured a tough past week.

Barca crashed out of the Champions League after a 3-0 loss at Roma last Tuesday and then claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win with a full-strength side against Valencia on Saturday.

“There will be change as I think the team needs it,” said Valverde at a press conference covered by the club’s website, www.fcbarcelona.com.

“We are in an important week and we are coming off the back of a game three days ago, and we have the cup final.”

The key changes could come up front as Valverde considers whether to rest Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Gerard Pique could also sit the game out.

Valverde, however, insists he will not take anything for granted against Celta, who are ninth in the table and still in contention for a Europa League spot.

“We have faced Celta three times already and it will be a tough game,” said Valverde, whose side are looking to extend their LaLiga record unbeaten run of 39 games.

“They are having a great season and are fighting for a European place. Celta manage games well and will put a lot of pressure on us.”

Celta Vigo had held Barcelona to a draw in their last meeting.

Celta Vigo had held Barcelona to a draw in their last meeting.

Celta held Barca to a 2-2 draw when they played at the Nou Camp in December and the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie in January also ended 1-1. Barca, however, thrashed the Galician side 5-0 in the second leg.

Celta coach Juan Carlos Unzue, who was assistant manager at Barca under Valverde’s predecessor Luis Enrique, wants to avenge that loss and is setting his sights on a shock win.

Barca’s last loss in LaLiga came at Malaga on April 8 last year.

Speaking at a press conference reported by ABC Internacional, Unzue said: “We cannot set out to draw, we need to win. We have to go out and win, to stand up.

“Playing against a big team is always an extra motivation for the rest, even if subconsciously.”

Unzue does not believe the Copa del Rey final will affect Barca’s attitude.

He said: “They are used to playing important matches every three days.”

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Sevilla's Clement Lenglet good enough to play for Barcelona, admits Vincenzo Montella

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Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella has admitted his French defender Clement Lenglet has the talent to play for a club like Barcelona.

Lenglet has been one of Sevilla’s stand-out players this season, with Barca reported to be interested in signing the 22-year-old this summer.

Samuel Umtiti is yet to extend his contract at the Camp Nou while Lenglet’s release clause, reported to be set at around €35 million, is relatively modest in today’s transfer market.

Barca will get a closer look at Lenglet when the clubs face each other in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final and on Monday, Montella hardly dampened rumours of a transfer.

“He is a champion mentally even more than he is physically on the field – in the future he can play for a big team like Barcelona,” Montella said.

“I hope that at some point it happens for him but I also hope that Sevilla will enjoy him for some years yet. The rumours don’t bother me, absolutely not.”

Before this weekend’s showpiece at the Wanda Metropolitano, Sevilla travel to struggling Deportivo La Coruna on Tuesday in La Liga and Barcelona are away to Celta Vigo.

While Barca, 11 points clear at the top of the table, can afford to rest players, Sevilla are in a race for Europa League qualification, sitting seventh, a point behind Villarreal in sixth.

But Sevilla’s Champions League exit to Bayern Munich was followed by a pulsating 2-2 draw at home to Villarreal on Saturday, games Montella says have taken their toll.

“Some of the players need to rest because they made a big effort on Saturday, Wednesday and the other week – not because we have the final,” Montella said.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Barcelona's Andres Iniesta says he has decided his future

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Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has decided about his future but is not ready to reveal it just yet.

The Spanish midfielder had earlier disclosed that he is evaluating offers from China and will be making a decision before the end of April.

“I’ve already decided what I’m going to do,” he said, as quoted by AS.

“I’ve always had affection from the fans, I’m grateful to them, who’ve been there for more than 20 years. Their support has been essential for winning.

”When I have to give my opinion, the club will know it and then everyone else will find out. Right now, I’m happy with the game today, because La Liga means a huge amount.”

The 33-year old had signed a lifetime contract last year at Barca.

After the defeat against Roma, Iniesta had admitted that he might have played his last game in the Champions League, thereby indicatin that his time at the Catalan club might be coming to an end.

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