MADRID, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is under pressure when his side entertain Celta Vigo in the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A 3-1 defeat away to Levante last weekend followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Slavia Prague in the Champions League has once again put the coach in the stoplight after a positive run of form took Barca back to the top of the table.
Barca fell apart in seven minutes and conceded three goals against Levante, while against Slavia Prague they were unable to create the chances to beat a theoretically inferior rival.
Valverde will be without Luis Suarez, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend, while left back Jordi Alba will be out for over a month after tearing a hamstring in midweek.
The Barca coach has to decide whether he hands a recall to Junior Firpo at left back after seeming to lose confidence in the summer signing, or continue with Nelson Semedo on the left, despite Semedo being naturally right footed.
As well as reshuffling the defense, Barca need to recapture their form in midfield and that will almost certainly see Sergio Busquets partner Frenkie de Jong and perhaps even see a return for Ivan Rakitic, who has been underused this season amid rumors of him leaving the club.
Antoine Griezmann will no doubt partner Leo Messi in attack as he continues to adapt to life at Barca and the doubt is whether Ousmane Dembele or Ansu Fati will occupy the third attacking role after Dembele once again disappointed in midweek.
Celta’s problems should put Barca’s recent results into perspective as the side from the northwest of Spain travel to Barcelona third from bottom of the league table and after replacing Fran Escriba with former Barca player Oscar Garcia, who had spent the first part of the season as a TV commentator for Barca matches.
Celta have certainly been underperforming as they beat Barca 2-0 in their Balaidos Stadium last season and if Oscar can produce a reaction from players such as Iago Aspas and Santi Mina, they could make Valverde’s life even more difficult that it already is.
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet