Barça vs. Rayo: Valverde won't take risks but will rotate

Umtiti will replace the suspended Lenglet, Malcom & Coutinho could start

La previa del FC Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano de este sábado en el Camp Nou
La previa del FC Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano de este sábado en el Camp Nou | sport

Exactly 11 months ago, Barcelona made a mistake: they picked a strong team against Leganes that meant, without meaning to, they arrived at Roma worn out and over confident, which led to a shock defeat. With that lesson learned, Barça welcome Rayo Vallecano on Saturday in similar circumstance to that Leganes game. But the team will probably be different. 

Javier Giraldo

@javiergiraldo

More than ever, rotations are needed: Lyon (who play Strasbourg on Saturday) held Barça to a 0-0 draw in the first leg and will demand the Catalans are at their best in Wednesday's second leg at Camp Nou with a quarterfinal place on the line. 

For that reason, you can imagine that Ernesto Valverde will hold some players back: Rayo have lost five games in a row in La Liga and have only won three games away form home. And even though they made things tough in the first meeting (Barça came back to win 3-2 in Vallecas), the team in the relegation zone should not be too much of an obstacle for the Blaugrana. 

CH-CH-CHANGES

Both Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Gerard Pique, the only players to have played every minute in La Liga for the club this season, are set to start. But, thinking of the Champions League, there will be changes in defence. Samuel Umtiti will start (Clement Lenglet is suspended) and Nelson Semedo will play at right-back. Jordi Alba, the only player without a natural backup, should also start. 

In midfield, Sergio Busquets could rest: Ivan Rakitic would drop into his spot, accompanied by two players who, in theory, will start on the bench against Lyon: Arturo Vidal and Carles Aleña. 

Further forward, Valverde may opt for two changes, with Malcom and Philippe Coutinho coming in for Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez. Lionel Messi will play as a false nine. 

Suarez, who last year admitted he should have rested more before Roma will be on the bench. Kevin Prince Boateng, signed to give the Uruguayan a rest every now and again, is not even in the squad after playing 90 minutes in the Catalan Super Cup in midweek. 

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