The coin, thrown up in the air in preseason, has reached its maximum height and is starting to fall. When it hits the floor, we will know if Ernesto Valverde’s management of the Barcelona will serve for him to win the toss.
El tiempo de las rotaciones ya pasó
The Barça coach, with one year’s experience at Camp Nou in his backpack, has planned for the season with aim of luck playing as smaller part as possible. Now there’s no more time for experiments and errors are prohibited.
Barça are on a run of four away games with a large part of their season in play. The second of those games is against Sevilla on Saturday at the Sanchez Pizjuan. It follows a 0-0 draw in the Champions League at Lyon.
Valverde has called up the same 18 players to travel to Seville as he did for the match in France. Not a single change. He is sure, injuries aside, on the soldiers he wants to take into battle.
Valverde has once again left out Kevin Prince Boateng, who was also absent from the 18 in Lyon despite travelling to the game. This time, he didn’t even board the plane to Seville. Neither did Sergi Samper or Jean Clair Todibo, also left out for technical reasons.
Samuel Umtiti does travel and the defender is ready to play again, reunited with his teammates at a key moment of the season.
The Barça coach will begin to reveal a lot in this run of games. He insinuated that Luis Suarez will keep his place in the team, that the best way for him to regain his form before the Real Madrid double header is by playing.
Umtiti’s return will also allow him to manage minutes in a defence, something which, right-back aside, has not been possible: Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba have played nearly everything.
The game at Sevilla will also serve to show what role Carles Aleña has to play — does Valverde trust him in the big games? Alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, who don’t have replacements, the youngster could play, but it’s more likely to be Arturo Vidal.