Valverde's options to replace Jordi Alba in Barça's game at San Mames

The Barça coach has no other left-back in the first team squad to call upon

Nelson Semedo, Sergi Roberto, Thomas Vermaelen y Juan Miranda son las opciones de Ernesto Valverde para el lateral izquierdo en San Mamés
Nelson Semedo, Sergi Roberto, Thomas Vermaelen y Juan Miranda son las opciones de Ernesto Valverde para el lateral izquierdo en San Mamés | Javi Ferrándiz / Valentí Enrich / David Ramírez

"Replacing Jordi Alba is a problem but we have options: we could use a right-back there, a left-footed centre-back or someone from the B team." 

Juan Manuel Díaz

@JuanmaDiaz65

That's Ernesto Valverde's take on how to deal with the absence of Alba against Athletic Club on Sunday. The left-back is suspended for the game at San Mames. 

Alba's played 32 of Barça's 36 offricial games. There is no other left-back in the first team and he has only missed the Champions League game against Tottenham (when Barcelona were already through) and three cup games. 

But he will not play at San Mames. His importance is obvious: two goals and 14 assists (one and nine in La Liga). He is also Lionel Messi's best partner on the pitch. 

THE ALTERNATIVES 

The first option Valverde mentioned is to use a righth-back on the left. There are two in the squad: Sergi Roberto and Nelson Semedo.

Valverde's done it before. Sergi Roberto played there against Levante and Semedo against Sevilla (both in the Copa del Rey). 

CENTRE-BACKS 

Another option is to use a centre-back there -- or play with a back three. Valverde's previously done that against Levante: in the 5-0 league win and the 2-1 cup defeat in Valencia. 

Against Levante in the league it was a slightly different set up, mind. Pique, Lenglet and Vermaelen all played, with the latter leaning to the left, although Dembele and Alba played as wing backs. 

In the cup game, Chumi and Murillo were joined by Busquets dropping back, with Semedo and Miranda on the flanks. Also, in the loss at Leganes in La Liga, Valverde used three centre-backs (Piqué-Umtiti-Vermaelen), although in this case the Belgian was at left-back.

B TEAM 

The final option is to use young left-back Juan Miranda. It's the fifth time he's been included in the squad for a league game (Villarreal, Espanyol, Levante, Celta and now Athletic) but he's never played. 

He did play in the Champions League game against Tottenham and in three cup games: twice against Cultural Leonesa and once against Levante. 

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