BARCELONA

Valverde pondering Paulinho start in crunch Mestalla game

After his stellar performance in Turin against Juventus, the Brazilian looks set to beef up the midfield in the top-of-the-table clash against Valencia.

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Valverde pondering Paulinho start in crunch Mestalla game
MARCO BERTORELLO AFP

Paulinho looks set to continue in his starting role for Barcelona when the league leaders take on second-placed Valencia in Mestalla on Sunday evening. Given the importance of the game and the way the Brazilian has fitted into Barça’s style of play, bringing aggression and driving runs towards goal – two facets lacking in Valverde’s side until recently – the Barça boss is planning on keeping the faith with the midfielder.

Valverde, who spent half a season at Mestalla in 2012-13, handed Leo Messi a rest in the Champions League match against Juventus in midweek so that the Argentinean is fresh for the Valencia game and in training sessions leading up to the game he has left Paco Alcácer and Gerard Deulofeu out of his rehearsal first 11.

Barcelona's likely line-up for Valencia game

Judging by what Valverde has been operating with in the final sessions on Friday, Barcelona will line up in Mestalla with a 4-4-1-1.

Ter Stegen; Semedo, Umtiti, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Paulinho, Iniesta; Messi; Luis Suárez.

  • Midfielder
  • Argentina