Three things Ernesto Valverde needs to do against Leganes

What will the Barça manager do about his back-line?

Barça returns to La Liga after an eventful international break. Taking on CD Leganés at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque tomorrow, things are bittersweet for the Blaugrana. What will Ernie do this weekend? We don’t know.

However, here are three things we want him to do this weekend!

1. Find a way to make the defence work

Despite all the turmoil, the only thing to take away from a Barcelona fan’s perspective was that Javier Mascherano got injured. At a time when both Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Piqué are a solitary yellow card away from suspension, the back-line is looking very thin. People are looking towards Thomas Vermaelen to step up but there’s a good chance he gets overlooked.

Belgium v Japan - International Friendly
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The centre-back played the full 90 minutes in Belgium’s international friendly against Japan three days ago. Hopefully, the former Gunner is good to go—we retained him this summer for days like this. It is high time that Vermaelen delivered. Ideally, I’d start either one of Umtiti or Piqué alongside Vermaelen. If Pique or Umtiti can get a yellow card, it will give Barcelona another fixture before they can reset the card-accumulation for their starting centre-backs.

Two games, Vermaelen. That’s all I ask.

2. Start Paco Alcácer

We all know that Luis Suárez is in terrible shape and form at the moment. The striker hasn’t looked sharp in months and was rested during the international break to recover. It might not be a good idea to put Suárez on the bench, but Barcelona needs him for the long haul.

Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

As much as we’d all love to get behind Paco, once Luisito starts banging them in, the 23-year-old stands no chance. However, for this one, the Valencian should be enough. Alcácer is in impressive form and his purple patch should be allowed to continue.

3. Use Denis Suárez, at least sparingly

Andrés Iniesta looks to be in smashing form with some excellent performances for club and country. However, at 33 years of age, one would hope that the veteran would get more rest. Alas, that hasn’t been the case.

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Still, Iniesta appears to be playing pretty frequently and it might do him some good to get a rest. Maybe even sit this one out. All of Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, and André Gomes are injured which only leaves Denis Suárez as an option. The Galician has been reiterating his desire to prove his worth to the club and maybe the time has come for him to show what he can do. Ernie has been quite shy about using the attacking midfielder. Hopefully, he gives Denis another chance.

Valverde talks Griezmann, defenders, transfer rumors and Denis Suarez ahead of Leganes clash

The boss has been giving his views

Barcelona return to action tomorrow as they begin a hectic week that sees them visit Leganes, Juventus and Valencia.

Ahead of the game, Ernesto Valverde has, as usual, faced the press and a whole range of questions.

Here are the best bits…

Valverde on Leganes

What worries me is that they are a team who concede very few goals at home they’ve only conceded a couple of goals.

They defend very well and are similar to Girona, two teams who work very hard, they believe in what they do and beating them is very difficult.

It will be a difficult game for lots of reasons, it’s an important game because we have some tough matches coming up between now and Christmas and we know this week is one in which we have three games away from home so there is a lot at stake.

Valvede on transfer rumors

Fifteen days without football that’s what happens, without games, you have more time to talk about arrivals and departures. I’m relaxed we just focus on the league. I’m not going to give any clues about any possible movements in the transfer market.

Valverde on who will play at centre-back

We have great centre halves, you can never predict what will happen, there are always injuries when you least expect and that’s why we have a strong squad. We’ll see tomorrow which centre halves play but we have confidence in Umtiti, Pique and obviously Vermaelen and we have the B team as well.

Valverde on Luis Suarez

He’s fine, last week he had special treatment to help him recover from the small problem he had. He’s been training hard and can play.

Valverde on Antoine Griezmann

He is a great player and every time players are linked with Barça they’re great players. I’m happy with the ones I’ve got. In the future we’ll see.

Valverde on Denis Suarez

He’s a player who’s in the squad, there’s a lot of competition for certain positions in the squad. He’s played a few games but I have confidence in him. But it depends on his performances, he’s training well we are happy with him but I can’t pick everyone.

Valverde on Messi renewal

[Fans] should not worry. He’s not worried at all, you can see, he’s playing well.

Valverde on Valencia

Valencia are have having a great season, they are candidates for the Champions League and for the title as well and we are going to follow them because we are up against them next. They will be fresh because they don’t have a game in midweek like us.

FC Barcelona News: 17 November 2017; All Internationals Return to Training, Milan Skriniar Denies Barcelona Ambition

A round-up of the latest Barcelona news and transfer rumors

All back together at last! | FC Barcelona
The last few international players from the FC Barcelona first team have rejoined training this Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva. Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Sergio, Iniesta, Cillessen, Paulinho, Jordi Alba, Umtiti, Digne and Vermaelen all trained for the first time since their return after the recent break in La Liga for international matches.

7 things you should know about Leganés v Barça | FC Barcelona
Find out some interesting facts surrounding Saturday’s league clash in the Butarque stadium.

Quick Start Guide to Barça at Leganés | FC Barcelona
Get up to date quickly ahead of Saturday’s game with standings, quick stats, and global kickoff times and TV channels in the English-speaking world.

Barca prepare Messi ‘lifetime deal’ | Football Espana
Barcelona want to offer Lionel Messi a ‘contract for life’ in an attempt to silence speculation regarding his future, according to reports in Spain. The Blaugrana agreed a similar arrangement with captain Andres Iniesta last month while the Argentine has reportedly already agreed to a contract extension until 2021.

Skriniar: I am not interested in Barcelona | Goal
Milan Skriniar has pledged his future to Inter despite being linked with a move to La Liga giants Barcelona. Skriniar only made the switch to San Siro in July but he has already proved a big success as Luciano Spalletti’s side have kept pace with Napoli and Juventus in the title race in Serie A.

Barça sees big brand potential in U.S. market, according to a comprehensive study | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona announced on Thursday the results of a brand study that it commissioned and which was carried out by the prestigious agency KantarMillwardBrown. Among the study’s highlights were results pertaining to the United States, a market the Club has long touted as highly strategic, and which the study confirmed holds an enormous potential for future growth.

FC Barcelona News: 17 November 2017; All Internationals Return to Training, Milan Skriniar Denies Barcelona Ambition

All back together at last! | FC Barcelona
The last few international players from the FC Barcelona first team have rejoined training this Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva. Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Sergio, Iniesta, Cillessen, Paulinho, Jordi Alba, Umtiti, Digne and Vermaelen all trained for the first time since their return after the recent break in La Liga for international matches.

7 things you should know about Leganés v Barça | FC Barcelona
Find out some interesting facts surrounding Saturday’s league clash in the Butarque stadium.

Quick Start Guide to Barça at Leganés | FC Barcelona
Get up to date quickly ahead of Saturday’s game with standings, quick stats, and global kickoff times and TV channels in the English-speaking world.

Barca prepare Messi ‘lifetime deal’ | Football Espana
Barcelona want to offer Lionel Messi a ‘contract for life’ in an attempt to silence speculation regarding his future, according to reports in Spain. The Blaugrana agreed a similar arrangement with captain Andres Iniesta last month while the Argentine has reportedly already agreed to a contract extension until 2021.

Skriniar: I am not interested in Barcelona | Goal
Milan Skriniar has pledged his future to Inter despite being linked with a move to La Liga giants Barcelona. Skriniar only made the switch to San Siro in July but he has already proved a big success as Luciano Spalletti’s side have kept pace with Napoli and Juventus in the title race in Serie A.

Barça sees big brand potential in U.S. market, according to a comprehensive study | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona announced on Thursday the results of a brand study that it commissioned and which was carried out by the prestigious agency KantarMillwardBrown. Among the study’s highlights were results pertaining to the United States, a market the Club has long touted as highly strategic, and which the study confirmed holds an enormous potential for future growth.

Mesut Ozil and Nabil Fekir emerge as Philippe Coutinho alternatives for Barcelona

Both stars could play in the Champions League

Barcelona’s pursuit of Philippe Coutinho is well-known and while the Blaugrana are rumored to be set to try again in January, there’s no guarantee of success.

Liverpool have been adamant they will not sell the Brazilian and any deal would be hugely expensive. The 25-year-old would also be cup-tied for the Champions League.

Which is why, perhaps, speculation has started to turn to possible alternatives and the Spanish press have presented two options on Friday.

Over at Mundo Deportivo, the talk is of a move for Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil who apparently has no intention of renewing his contract which expires next summer.

The Germany international would therefore be a much cheaper option than Coutinho and would also be available for the Champions League.

It’s a different story altogether at Sport, where the news is that Robert Fernandez and Urbano Ortego both “love” Nabil Fekir.

Again Fekir would be available for the Champions League, but there is competition with Real Madrid and Arsenal also interested.

However, Lyon are a selling club, so say Sport, and Barca feel a bid of over €50 million might be enough to land Fekir.

The signing of the 24-year-old is considered more of a risk, however, despite his form this season which has seen him score 11 goals in 11 Ligue 1 games.

Who do you think would be the best option for Barca? Coutinho, Fekir or Ozil? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Who Should Barcelona Sign in the Winter Transfer Market?

We want your ideas.

Barcelona might need a reinforcement during the winter transfer window. So we’re going to put it up to you, the community.

Who would you sign, if anyone?

Some things to consider:

  1. Is the player realistically available? That’s a no for Antoine Griezmann, for example.
  2. Is the player cup tied? Philippe Coutinho is, and that means he wouldn’t help the team in the UEFA Champions League. It’s not disqualifying, but definitely something to keep in mind.
  3. Is the player going to improve the team? There are many prospects out there with a lot of hype, but shining in Ligue 1 (for example) is not the same as getting minutes at Barcelona.

So, fans, who would you get?

FIFA World Cup 2018: Barcelona Connection for All Teams

Should you support this team in the World Cup? Let’s see the connection to your favorite team

Everyone has World Cup teams they like, including obviously their own country if they qualified. But what about if you’re a neutral since your team didn’t qualify? Or what about matches in which you don’t really know either team but still want to pull for one side?

I’m going to give you a little guide about which teams to support given their connection to Barcelona… no matter how obscure.

AFC

Australia: Ummm. Mitchell Langerak, one of their keepers, is a backup at Levante. So… who knows, really.

Iran: Their coach, Carlos Queiroz, was once the manager of Real Madrid. Oppose.

Japan: Barça’s current sponsor, Rakuten, is Japanese. Thanks for paying the bills.

Saudi Arabia: Their coach, Edgardo Bauza, nearly cost Lionel Messi the chance to be in the tournament by being unbelievably bad. Oppose unless they sack him, which they should.

South Korea: You know what, we’re on a high from that Tottenham Hotspur win over Real Madrid. Son Heung-min gets our weak support. I’m sure he’s thrilled.

CAF

Egypt: Their coach, Héctor Cúper, once managed Valencia. That’s all I can think of. General meh.

Morocco: Achraf Hakimi is a Real Madrid player. Oppose unless they call up Munir El-Haddadi.

Nigeria: Emmanuel Amunike and Samuel Okunowo played for Barça back in the day. Weak support.

Senegal: Diawandou Diagné played for Barcelona B, but he’s not getting call-ups… so meh.

Tunisia: Can’t think of much, but hey – neither their coach or captain voted for Messi in the top 3 for the FIFA The Best Awards. So you know, oppose, or whatever.

CONCACAF

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas. Oppose.

Mexico: Unfortunately the days of Rafael Márquez are done, but there’s still a chance for Giovani Dos Santos and his brother Jonathan to get in the team. Support.

Panama: It’s their first World Cup. They’ll probably get torn up but whatever, you have to root for such underdogs.

CONMEBOL

Argentina: Are you kidding? Messi. Javier Mascherano. Enough said. Strong support.

Brazil: Let’s have a look. Marcelo BOOOO Neymar BOOOO Casemiro BOOOO. Oppose… right? Hey what’s this? PAULINHO?? Never mind, never mind. SUPPORT.

Colombia: Surprisingly no Colombian has ever played for Barcelona. James Rodríguez moving to Bayern Munich makes them more likable, but still. It’s James. No thanks… unless Yerry Mina signs.

Peru: They could have knocked Argentina out, probably, but they didn’t. Soooo, thanks.

Uruguay: Two words: Luis Suárez. Support.

UEFA

Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen, but little else. Weak support.

Croatia: Ivan Rakitić, so support. Of course, Luka Modrić is there, but he’s one of Real Madrid’s most likable players.

Denmark: Come on, we all know culés love Christian Eriksen, plus there’s Michael Laudrup to think about.

England: This team is surprisingly light on Chelsea players, so they’re more bearable than the previous versions.

France: Ousmane Dembélé, Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti, and maybe soon, Antoine Griezmann. Not to mention historical players like Lillian Thuram, Éric Abidal, and Thierry Henry. We’ll ignore Raphaël Varane. Strong support.

Germany: Marc-André Ter Stegen won’t start, so we’re not going to get excited. Plus they have a Real Madrid player, Toni Kroos. They’re also favorites to take the title from the teams we’re strongly supporting. Going to say oppose.

Iceland: How can we forget Eiður Guðjohnsen? He was Iceland’s best player by a mile back in the day. Plus they’re a fun team.

Poland: We’ll always smile that Robert Lewandowski scored four against Real Madrid. Going to say weak support.

Portugal: Oh come on. Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe. Sorry André Gomes. Oppose.

Russia: Denis Cheryshev will always brighten our days by accidentally eliminating Real Madrid when he played for them.

Serbia: Predrag Mijatović led this team’s precursor, Yugoslavia, as a Real Madrid player. But he’s actually from Montenegro. Neutral.

Spain: Come on. You can’t oppose the team with Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra, Gerard Deulofeu, and Pedro.

Sweden: We had two busts when we bought Zlatan Ibrahimović and Patrick Andersson, but on the other hand, Henrik Larsson was a signing that changed the course of history. Neutral.

Switzerland: Joan Gamper was Swiss. So were many of the other founders of the club. You have to support them.

Rumors: Coutinho or Griezmann, Messi deal for life & Neymar tried to pull out of PSG move

The gossip just keeps on coming

Coutinho OR Griezmann

Today’s rumors start with Sport who reckon it’s case of Philippe Coutinho OR Antoine Griezmann, not both.

The club are still keen on bringing in Coutinho in January but if he does not they will end their interest in the Brazilian and move on.

Indeed failure to land Coutinho will also mean that Barca go all out for Griezmann in the summer.

Deal for life for Messi

Lionel Messi’s current new deal is still not officially offical but Mundo Deportivo report that Barcelona are already working on yet another contract.

Apparently the Blaugrana will offer the Argentine a contract for life, similar to the one Iniesta signed recently.

Chief executive officer Oscar Graua has already confirmed the plans to offer Messi a lifetime contract, now it simply seems to be a question of when it will happen.

Tearful Neymar tried to stop PSG move

Over at Marca, the story is that Neymar apparently tried to pull out of his PSG move twice.

Apparently the Brazilian was reduced to tears as he twice tried to get Josep Maria Bartomeu stop the move.

He also vowed to return to Camp Nou, saying “Remember me, I want to come back.”

Cillessen to Newcastle?

Marca also have news regarding Jasper Cillessen and apparently the goalkeeper could be snapped up for as little as €10 million.

Cillessen has been linked with a move to Newcastle United and has only managed one appearance this season, in the Copa del Rey win over Murcia.

FC Barcelona News: 16 November 2017; Javier Mascherano Injures Hamstring, La Liga to Implement VAR

Javier Mascherano has a right hamstring injury | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has suffered an injury to his right hamstring, the Club confirmed on Wednesday following medical tests carried out at the team’s training center in Sant Joan Despí. The 33-year-old Argentinian was hurt during Tuesday night’s international friendly against Nigeria.

La Liga to implement video assistant referees for 2018-19 campaign | ESPN
An RFEF statement read: “Victoriano Sanchez Arminio, president of the Technical Referees Committee (CTA), has announced to all referees and assistant referees of (Spain’s) first division that from next season, the VAR will be implemented in the national league.

‘We called him dwarf!’ – The story of Messi’s first days at Barcelona | Goal
But one day, that changed. “We went to their place and we scored three,” Marc Valiente, a defender with KAS Eupen in Belgium and one of the captains of that team, recalls to Goal. It was 2002 and Barcelona’s raw diamond was a tiny Argentine aged 14. He was the difference in an almost unbeatable team.

When and where to watch CD Leganés vs FC Barcelona | FC Barcelona
Barça visit CD Leganés on Saturday with kick off set for 4.15pm CET. Ernesto Valverde’s team visit the Butarque stadium as league leaders wtih a four point gap over second placed Valencia. Find out where and when you can see the game around the world with our TV coverage guide. Don’t forget you can follow the game on our official FC Barcelona website and on the Club’s various social media platforms.

Messi’s pre-game magic show | FC Barcelona
With a ball at his feet, Leo Messi is capable of anything: in matches, in training and even in the warm-up. Marc-André ter Stegen and Jasper Cillessen have their work cut out getting a hand on the ball before games as the Barça number 10 gets his eye in perfectly with a series of perfectly placed shots. Enjoy Messi’s great goals in the warm-up right here in our exclusive video!

Messi, Ronaldo La Liga exit would be ‘bigger blow’ than Neymar – Tebas | ESPN
La Liga president Javier Tebas acknowledges that Neymar’s summer departure from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain has had an effect on La Liga, but claims it would be a “bigger blow” for Spain’s top flight to lose Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

VIDEO: Watch the five top strikes from the Barça academy teams last week | FC Barcelona
The La Masia teams were in typical high-scoring form on the weekend of November 11-12. We’ve selected five of the best from all of the youth level goals scored last time out. Check them out in the accompanying video.

How will Barcelona line up against Leganes?

La Liga resumes on Saturday as Barcelona head to Leganes and Ernesto Valverde has plenty of decisions to make with regards his starting line up.

There will be no Javier Mascherano due to injury, while Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique are both just one booking away from a suspension.

Meanwhile, up front Luis Suarez has not scored in his last five games while Paco Alcacer grabbed two last time out.

Here’s how they might line up on Saturday…

Defence

With Mascherano out it seems likely Umtiti and Pique will start, but they will need to be careful as a booking will see them miss the trip to Valencia.

Nelson Semedo should start at right-back with Jordi Alba, who bagged two goals in two games for Spain over the international break, will be at left-back with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal.

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Midfield

It’s difficult to predict what formation Barcelona might play against Leganes, but it’s quite possible Valverde could go for a 4-4-2 or even a 4-3-1-2.

Either way it seems likely that Ivan Rakitic, Segio Busquests and Andres Iniesta should start. Iniesta played 74 minutes for Spain against Costa Rica but only the first 45 minutes against Russia.

However, Valverde may also have one eye on the game against Juventus on Wednesday, which could affect his line up for this one.

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Attack

Paco Alcacer’s two goals against Sevilla may be enough to give him another chance in the starting line up. Suarez was given a rest over the international break, staying in Barca to work on his fitness, and hopefully that will have a positive impact on his form. Lionel Messi, of course, completes the team.

Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Predicted starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Alcacer, Messi, Suarez.

Who do you think should start against Leganes? Let us know your thoughts and line-ups in the comments below!