Ernesto Valverde to heavily rotate players as Barcelona begin gruelling stretch

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admits rotation of his players will become key as a La Liga trip to Real Sociedad starts a run of seven matches in 23 days.

Champions League group games at home to PSV Eindhoven and away to Tottenham are sandwiched in between five league matches – with Barca looking to maintain their perfect start.

An 8-2 thrashing of Huesca before the international break means Valverde’s side have started their title defence with three successive wins.

Arch-rivals Real Madrid also boast a 100 per cent start but, with a packed schedule coming up between now and the next round of international games in October, Valverde knows he will have to make use of his squad.

“It is possible we may make changes (against Sociedad),” he said at his pre-match press conference ahead of the match at the Anoeta Stadium.

“We have to have more than 11 players for these matches. We have three days between the two matches but we have just come back from an international break.

“Then next week is a little difficult because we have three in six days and then we play against Tottenham. We will have to rotate players to avoid injuries and stay fresh.”

Summer signing Arthur has been omitted for the squad for Saturday’s game, with Malcom, Sergi Samper and Denis Suarez absent through injury.

Despite hammering Huesca last time out, the Nou Camp was shocked into silence as the newly-promoted side took the lead through Cucho Hernandez – something Valverde wants to avoid at Sociedad, a place Barca have struggled in recent years.

“We know the pressure we will be put under away from home in the league,” he added.

“It’s not the same as at home. We have to start the game well, not like the other day against Huesca where we conceded a goal after two minutes.”

The game marks the opening of Sociedad’s refurbished stadium, with Asier Garitano’s side having played their opening three matches away from San Sebastian.

An athletics track has been removed from around the pitch, with additional seating allowing supporters closer to the action.

While the works are not completed, Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza is pleased to be kicking off in their new home.

“It is going to be a special game,” he said at a press conference.

“We will play at Anoeta for the first time… we are hoping that everything goes well. The fans are going to help us more than ever now.

“They are going to notice the difference, the fans are going to be closer to us and we are going to be able to feel that.”

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Live Barcelona Blog: PSG hit out at Real Madrid over pursuit of former Barca star

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Hello Barcelona fans!

The team are back in action this weekend as the international break ends with a tricky trip to Real Sociedad awaiting on Saturday.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the news from Camp Nou, but we want you to get involved too.

Tweet to us at @Sport360 with your thoughts.

5:16pm – Real Madrid criticised over Neymar pursuit

Neymar (R) poses with his jersey next to Paris Saint Germain's (PSG) Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has hit out at Real Madrid’s “underhanded tactics” in their pursuit of former Barcelona star Neymar.

The Brazilian talisman has seemed unsettled in the French capital ever since he moved there from Barcelona last summer, with constant speculation over a return to Spain, which has angered the PSG hierarchy.

Read more here.

1:00pm – Richarlison reveals Barcelona “dream”

Richarlison

Everton attacker Richarlison says his dream is to move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona one day.

The Brazilian, who has hit the ground running at his new club, having moved to Everton this summer, was asked about both joining either of Spain’s giants in the future during an interview with AS.

Read more here.

12:00 – Barcelona monitoring “next Robert Lewandowski”

0914 Krzysztof Piatek

Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek has been dubbed the “next Robert Lewandowski” after his stunning form for Genoa, where he’s scored seven times in his first three appearances for the club.

Barcelona are reportedly keeping tabs on the 23-year-old, who is being considered a long-term successor to the 31-year-old Luis Suarez.

Read more

11:45 – Ajax set price for De Jong

Frenkie de Jong is a long-term target of Barcelona's.

Frenkie de Jong is a long-term target of Barcelona’s.

Ajax have slapped a €75million price tag on midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who has been a long-term target of Barcelona. The club failed with an approach this summer but are certain to return for the Dutch youngster at the end of the season.

Read more

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Live Barcelona blog: Pep Guardiola on his desire to return to Barcelona one day

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Welcome to today’s Barcelona blog. The Sport360 team will be with you throughout the day with all the latest updates and news from the Nou Camp.

Our daily blog will keep you up to date but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

10:00 – Guardiola reveals desire to return to Camp Nou one day

Pep Guardiola has revealed his desire to return to where it all began and finish his coaching career at Barcelona.

The Manchester City boss managed the Catalan giants between 2008 and 2012, leading the La Liga champions to 14 trophies during his four years in charge at the Camp Nou.

Read what he had to say here.

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