Thursday, April 25, 2019

Valverde still unsure on Umtiti return date ahead of Lyon tie

SoccerNews in La Liga 15 Feb 2019

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Ernesto Valverde still does not know if Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti will be available to face former club Lyon in the Champions League.

Umtiti has not played since November due to a knee injury but returned to training with the LaLiga leaders earlier this month.

Clement Lenglet has deputised in defence alongside Gerard Pique in Umtiti’s absence but the World Cup-winning defender is keen to line up against his old colleagues on Tuesday.

Umtiti would likely need to be involved in Saturday’s LaLiga game at home to Real Valladolid if he was to make the Barca squad for the Lyon match.

But Valverde, who signed a one-year contract extension on Friday, was unwilling to say whether Umtiti will face either Valladolid or Lyon at his pre-match news conference.

“Look, the Lyon game is after tomorrow’s game so we have some margin to decide and to see what he can do,” Valverde told reporters.

“He hasn’t played for a long time but he is a very important member of the squad and we need him for future games.

“I don’t know [if his return will be] tomorrow or the next game, we will be analysing his performances, so let’s wait and see.”

Barcelona host Valladolid after drawing their past two games in the league, with in-form Real Madrid now just six points behind the leaders.

And Valverde was keen to stress how important the Valladolid match is, with his focus yet to switch to facing Lyon.

“Lyon are a good team and it will be a very difficult game for us,” he added. “They have good players in attack and in defence.

“But I’m sorry we have an important game tomorrow and I don’t want to talk too much about them, I’d rather save my words for the press conference before that game.

“Valladolid may think it’s a good game as they’ll catch us focusing on other games but we must be focused on getting the points. We know we have some tough teams ahead but for us it’s tomorrow that really matters.

“Decisive games are coming up so it would be nice to go into them with three points from this game and we need to make sure we win tomorrow to build a knock-on effect for further victories.”

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