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Barcelona: Piqué, Semedo and Alba give Dortmund a goal

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will have to field a patched up back four against the Bundesliga side, who won from 2-0 down against Inter.

Lenglet y Umtiti, en la imagen, serán la pareja de centrales del Barcelona ante el equipo alemán.
Gorka LeizaDIARIO AS

When Antonio Conte glanced at the score board in the Westfalenstadion as he made his way down the tunnel at half time, the Inter Milan coach could have been forgiven for thinking that his job that evening was more than 50 percent done. Inter had a 2-0 lead through Lautaro Martínez and Matías Vecino and the home side had done little to suggest that a stirring comeback was on the cards.

Twenty minutes later, on-loan Real Madrid full back Achraf Hakimi and Julian Brandt had given Dortmund a 3-2 lead, which they would not surrender. The result left Inter playing catch-up in Group F, the Italians now reliant on results elsewhere as well as their ability to win their final two games against Slavia Prague and Barcelona.

Dortmund, meanwhile, are a point off Valverde’s side as they prepare to take on Barça on Wednesday and the Camp Nou manager has a serious spot of tinkering to do at the back as he attempts to take his side through to the knock-out stages without any final day drama. The stakes are high: win, and Barcelona are assured of Champions League football after Christmas and will top the group. Draw, and all is not lost, although an Inter win at Slavia will make things rather uncomfortable. Lose, and they will be behind Dortmund and just one point ahead of the Serie A side when they travel to San Siro on 10 December. The last time Barça failed to get out of the group stage was in 2000-01.

It is not ideal for Valverde then that he will have to send out a patched up, makeshift back four to try and contain Dortmund. His first-choice full backs, Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo, are injured and his defensive linchpin Gerard Piqué suspended. That leaves Valverde with Barça’s James Milner, Sergi Roberto, to fill on the right and Junior Firpo, who has never played in the Champions League, to patrol the left against the attacking threat of Hakimi.

Valverde reliant on Lenglet and Umtiti for Dortmund

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But Valverde’s most worrying area is the centre. Clément Lenglet missed the 2-1 victory over Leganés last weekend with a muscle injury but will be risked anyway in the absence of any other options. Samuel Umtiti has not played more than two consecutive games in 14 months after picking up a serious knee injury against the same opposition in Butarque. The France international has started and completed Barça’s last two Liga fixtures but has played only three times in all competitions this season.

If Valverde opts for the quartet of Roberto-Umtiti-Lenglet-Junior, it will be the ninth different back four he has used in 18 games this season.

To add to Barça’s troubles, Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is under orders to put in an eye-catching performance at Camp Nou after his side’s recent slump in form. With Dortmund unable to prevent Bundesliga basement boys Paderborn from scoring three at the weekend, both managers may decide that attack is the best form of defence on Wednesday.


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