Ernesto Valverde is yet to decide whether Andres Iniesta can be risked in Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Chelsea, with the Barcelona captain struggling to recover from a hamstring injury.
Iniesta was forced off during Barca’s 1-0 LaLiga defeat of title rivals Atletico Madrid on March 4 and has not played since, missing the weekend win over Malaga.
The midfielder has returned to training but Valverde will assess his performance in Tuesday’s session before making a final decision on his availability.
“He’s done well in training but we can’t say whether or not he will play yet,” Valverde told reporters.
“It’s a huge game but you need to be 100 per cent fit to play. It depends whether he trains today.
“Tomorrow is a must-win situation so you need to take risks, as long as they are not too excessive.
“But you also do not want to compromise the safety of the player.”
Sergio Busquets: “Andrés Iniesta helps us a lot on and off the field. He always brings something different to the team. We will see if he can help us tomorrow, after training we will know” #BarçaChelsea pic.twitter.com/GvqusRUzrD
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 13, 2018
With Iniesta absent and Lionel Messi unavailable due to the birth of his third son, Ousmane Dembele excelled in Barca’s defeat of Malaga on Saturday and the France international is a contender to start against Chelsea.
“It was against 10 men but he did perform very well and he offers something very different to the team,” said Valverde, who confirmed Sergi Roberto should be fit to play despite missing training.
Chelsea’s defensive tactics restricted Barca to minimal chances in the first leg, but a mistake from Andreas Christensen led to Iniesta setting up Messi for a crucial away goal in a 1-1 draw.
And Valverde expects Antonio Conte’s men to line up in a similar shape when they visit Camp Nou, where they are unbeaten in their last four visits.
“In the first leg we saw Chelsea’s virtues,” Valverde said. “We don’t know if they will attack or defend, it depends what the score is.
“The initial result is good for us but we have to play our game and be ourselves. Chelsea are a team that can score at any time.
“They can take different approaches, they showed that in London. But when they push back and defend strong they are hard to break through. Maybe the secret is to keep pressing, but they are also very strong on the counter-attack.
“Tomorrow we have to be wary of the threats of Chelsea, they are a threat from set-pieces and on the counter-attack and we have to be careful about that.”
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