The Barça coach will need to call on all of his avilable players for a hectic month in which his team will play four league games and the the Cup tie against Levante.
Barcelona return from the Christmas holidays tomorrow. The players are due back at the Ciutat Esportiva for the first of a double session, starting at 10:30 sharp. The excesses of the festive period will be burned off in a second session at 18:00 hours. As far as Ernesto Valverde is concerned, there is no time to lose - he knows that his team is about to embark on a crucial part of the campaign and wants his players fresh to confront a busy month in which they will play six games, between LaLiga and the Copa del Rey, in just three weeks.
Barça's technical department have everything planned to the last detail. Rotating the squad will be a neccesity - especially for the home and away Cup legs against Levante. In LaLiga, Barça begin the New Year away from home at Getafe on the 6th. That game will be followed by two at Camp Nou - Eibar on the 13th and Leganés on either the 19th or 20th. Valverde's men will see out the month at Montilivi against Girona (26th or 27th). Sanwiched between thos matches will be the Copa del Rey Last 16 tie - with the first leg at the Ciutat de València on 10 January and the return leg at home the following week - probably on the 16th.
Valverde's biggest concern is fatigue - he knows his players will be tired and have little time to recover between games. His plan is to field a changed in the Copa del Rey - although that by no means suggests that Barça will be giving the Cup less priority. The coach has little option but to rest players who have hardly had a moment to stop and will need recuperation time when the season resumes. Many of his first choice stars have already racked up a lot of playing time: Gerard Piqué and Marc André ter Stegen (2,070 mins), Sergio Busquets (2,006 mins), Ivan Rakitic (1,937 mins) and Luis Suárez (1,809 mins). Lionel Messi totals 1,618 minutes but he's also spent a month out injured - despite that his absence has had no effect at all on his goal scoring - he's netted 21 in all competitions - 15 in Laliga and six in the Champions League.