Barcelona to rest stars as they push for Champions League glory




Lionel Messi

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was firm in his commitment to pushing for further glory, after his side wrapped up an eighth La Liga title in the last 11 seasons.

A 1-0 win at home to Levante means the Catalan side have secured their title defence, with three league games to spare before the end of the 2018-19 season.

The former Athletic Bilbao coach will now focus his squad’s energies on completing a first treble since 2015. Valverde has opted to rest and rotate some of his first team players as he looked to get over the line in La Liga, and keep them fresh for European action.

They face Liverpool twice in a week in the Champions League, in a two legged time that will ultimately determine how their season is viewed – despite a second successive league title for Valverde.

With arch rivals Real Madrid having issues of their own, and Atletico Madrid fading, Barcelona have had the league in the bag for some time, so Europe remains the ground they will judged on this season.

He will rest the majority of the players earmarked to face Jurgen Klopp’s side for the league games against Celta Vigo, and against Getafe – if they get through.

Ten of the starting line up that played in the first leg of the quarter final at Manchester United were rested for the following league game, with eight then returning as La Blaugrana won the second leg in Catalonia.

He is expected to do the same of this weekend’s trip to Galicia, regardless of the first leg result against Liverpool.

Lionel Messi has been rested for the last two league games, coming off the bench in both, as Valverde looks to manage his troublesome groin injury for the remainder of the season.

The issue means their skipper has reduced his training hours and will only be used when needed by Valverde in the coming weeks.

Sergio Busquets and Sergio Roberto are both expected to return to the starting line up for the midweek game, but Valverde will then look at Malcom, Carles Alena and Kevin-Prince Boateng for league action.

The rotations will increase if Barcelona get past Liverpool, to face Tottenham or Ajax in the Madrid final, with the Copa del Rey final against Valencia also put on the back burner.

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