Barcelona

Surprise midfielder tipped for Barcelona start vs Chelsea

A report from Spanish outlet Sport this evening has named a surprise potential inclusion in Barcelona’s starting lineup to take on Chelsea tomorrow evening.

Matchup

The two sides are set to go head to head in a highly-anticipated Champions League last 16 first-leg clash at Stamford Bridge, with Premier League champions Chelsea heading into the clash having put a dismal run of form behind them with resounding victories over West Brom and Hull City respectively over the last week.

Barcelona, meanwhile, currently sit pretty atop the La Liga table following a blistering campaign to this point, with Ernesto Valverde’s men having also qualified for the Copa Del Rey final earlier this month courtesy of a 3-0 aggregate victory over Valencia.

Midfield questions

Much has been made of the potential starting XIs of both sides in the days leading up to the clash, with questions surrounding the system set to be implemented by Antonio Conte, as well as whether the likes of Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko will be opted for from the first-whistle.

For Barcelona, meanwhile, one major question mark remains, regarding who will join the likely midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta in the middle of the park.

Philippe Coutinho is not eligible to line out for the Catalan giants in the Champions League, Ousmane Dembele is not expected to be utilised from the start as he works his way back from injury, while the likes of Paco Alcacer and Aleix Vidal look likely to start from the bench.

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As such, the two remaining options for Valverde are Paulinho and Andre Gomes, with the aforementioned report from Sport claiming that the latter looks likely to get the nod.

Sport point to the fact that Gomes has been opted for from the start in several of Barca’s toughest away fixtures this season (Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao), with Paulinho’s recent dry streak in front of goal leading Sport to suggest that Gomes may once again be trusted from the off tomorrow evening at Stamford Bridge.

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