VIGO, Spain – A Celta Vigo in need of points will look to take advantage of the rotations Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is set to make to his starting lineup in Saturday’s LaLiga game ahead of the UEFA Champions League semifinal, in a bid to earn a win that would boost their chances of avoiding relegation.
Defeating the 2018/2019 La Liga champion would allow Celta to increase their advantage over their rivals at the bottom of the table.
A win would also boost Celta’s morale before its takes on Athletic Bilbao away, which is currently still chasing a spot in Europe next season.
Celta’s coach Fran Escriba, who turned 54 on Friday, will be able to count on prolific scorer Iago Aspas, who has recovered in time from a right shoulder sprain that he sustained during the team’s scoreless draw against Leganes.
The coach will also have Okay Yokuslu at his disposal, back from suspension.
Both are expected to make the starting lineup, which will see the return of Brais Mendez, who will be teaming up with Okay Yokuslu, Stanislav Lobotka and Sofiane Boufal in midfield.
Ruben Blanco has secured his spot under the crossbar and Escriba is not expected to make any changes to the defensive line, despite the recovery of the David Junca, who had been an undisputed starter until his injury.
At the other end of the pitch, Barcelona are expected to make without the most of the regular starters, who will be rested with Tuesday’s second leg of the Champions League semifinal against Liverpool in mind.
Exhausted after the big effort they put on in the home 3-0 win over Liverpool on Wednesday and with the league title under their belt, the Catalan team is widely expected to save their energy for the long waited Champions League title during the three La Liga matches they had ahead of them against Celta, Getafe and Eibar.
This will be the second time the stars are rested in the past few weeks.
The first time was during their visit to Huesca, when the team rested half of its regular starters with eyes on the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals against Manchester United.
Back then, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde maintained goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Germany in the starting lineup.
However, this time Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands is expected to start against Celta, behind a bizarre defensive combination of Jean-Clair Todibo, Mousa Wague, Jeison Murillo and a Samuel Umtiti, who prevailed over his countryman Clement Lenglet for a place in the starting lineup.
Belgium’s Thomas Vermaelen is expected to start as left back.
In the midfield, Arthur Melo of Brazil could have playing minutes as he watched Wednesday’s Champions League match from the bench.
Carles Aleña and Riqui Puig could make another starting lineup appearance as they did against Huesca.
In the attacking line, Valverde is expected to insert Malcom Filipe Silva de Oliveira and Kevin-Prince Boateng, to team up with France’s Ousmane Dembele, who still lacks match rhythm.