Confirmed: Barcelona's 22-man travelling squad
Barcelona have announced their travelling squad to face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at Old Trafford.
The Spanish giants will fly to England on Tuesday and head coach Ernesto Valverde will hold his press conference alongside a player at the Theatre of Dreams from 17:00 BST. Our illustrious visitors will then train on the pitch, beneath the floodlights, in front of the European football media.
On the official Barcelona website, their 22-man squad is listed as follows: Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Pique, I. Rakitic, Sergio, Todibo, Coutinho, Arthur, Suarez, Messi, O. Dembele, Cillessen, Malcom, Lenglet, Murillo, Jordi Alba, Prince Boateng, S. Roberto, Vidal, Umtiti, Alena, Inaki Pena.
Our quarter-final opponents will be without former Arsenal defender and Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen, who is out due to discomfort in his left leg.
Ousmane Dembele has been named in the squad, but he does not have medical clearance to play according to a statement on Barcelona’s official website.
Jean-Clair Todibo is travelling with the team, despite not being registered for the Champions League.
Barcelona prepared for their trip to Old Trafford by recording an important 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday evening, thanks to goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Solskjaer and first-team coach Mike Phelan were both in the crowd to watch the game and take notes.
Speaking after the win, head coach Valverde praised United and admitted he is wary of facing the Reds at Old Trafford.
“They are a powerful team,
“ he told reporters at the Nou Camp.
“They are going through a good run, even if they lost their last match.
“Physically they are really strong and they know how to put pressure on their opponents. They have players who are physically very powerful, and they can be dangerous strategically as well.
“This match is a classic in European football. Barcelona have never won at Old Trafford I believe and we are going to try and change that.”
Our last competitive match against Barcelona was the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, when the Spanish club secured a frustratingly-dominant 3-1 win to claim their trophy.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick all spoke glowingly about Barcelona in the aftermath, paying tribute to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side that was almost impossible to beat.
Sergio Busquets is one of three players in the current Barcelona squad who played that evening - alongside Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi - and the Spanish midfielder has this week admitted that it was a humbling experience to receive such sporting praise from United’s key figures at that time.
“Beyond the way we enjoyed it on the pitch, that recognition from opponents – and we’re talking about incredibly important people – leaves you feeling pride and gratitude,” he told The Guardian.
“Sometimes you can be frustrated when the opponents are so much better but instead they said things like that. It’s the highest praise. We hurt them a lot keeping the ball; they spent a lot of time running after it. That was the best performance of Pep’s era, where our success, our superiority, was most overwhelming – a demonstration of how we wanted to play.”
Busquets is expected to start at Old Trafford on Wednesday and he has plenty of respect for the Reds.
“United are better under Solskjaer,
“ the Barcelona star said. ”They don’t mind letting you have the ball.
“Their opponents might be better technically but, as we saw with PSG, they counter-attack well and they’re good at set-pieces.
”If you make any mistakes, they’ll take advantage.”
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