Arthur: Valverde's safe bet for the big occasions
Arthur has started in all of the most important games this season, and has yet to lose to big opposition. He'll be hoping to keep that record in tact against Real Madrid next week.
While Arthur has been left out of the starting eleven on several occasions this season, coach Ernesto Valverde has so far shown his preference to start the Brazilian midfielder for the most demanding fixtures – and games in which Barcelona have played at their best.
The 22-year-old has slowly been gaining the physical conditioning required to keep up with the high pace at which the European game is played, and had yet another excellent game in the 6-1 thrashing of Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, providing the assist for Ivan Rakitic’s goal in the 31st minute.
Arthur has played 15 league games (838 minutes) in LaLiga this season, and not one of the important fixtures has been lost. He was present in the 5-1 win against Real Madrid, the vital away draws at the Wanda Metropolitano against Atlético and at the Mestalla against Valencia (both 1-1), as well as in the well-worked victory over Sevilla at the Camp Nou (4-2).
In the Champions League he was the great surprise in the starting eleven for Barcelona’s best performance in the group stages against Tottenham at Wembley – a game which the Blaugrana won 4-2. During the group stage, Arthur played every game except the away tie with PSV, which he missed through injury.
With another important fixture coming up against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey next week, Valverde will likely choose his solid Brazilian rock in the centre – a selection choice which has yet to let him down on the big occasions.