Madrid, Apr 14: FC Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw away to bottom of the table Huesca on Saturday after fielding a team which looked nothing like their usual starting 11.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde left Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Sergi Roberto in Barcelona to rest ahead of next week's Champions League quarterfinal return leg at home to Manchester United. Instead of those big-name stars, January signings Jeison Murillo and Jean-Clair Todibo made their debuts in a three-man central defense alongside Samuel Umtiti, while B-team players Riqui Puig and Moussa Wague also made their first team debuts and Kevin Prince Boeteng made just his second start since joining the club.
Despite the sweeping changes, Barca still controlled nearly all of the ball in the first half, clocking up 78 percent of possession. Only Ousmane Dembele was able to draw a serious save from home keeper Roberto Santamaria, with Boeteng and Umtiti both seeing efforts go high and wide. The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first with Barca controlling most of the ball, but once again lacking their usual effectiveness in attack, where Boeteng struggled to make an impact.
The closest the league leaders came to finding a winning goal was a shot from Malcom which bounced back off the post 10 minutes into the second half. Dembele also saw a shot go just wide, but overall it was a dull game with Huesca unable to seriously challenge Ter Stegen in the Barca goal. Valverde said he was "content" with the result, although his side could have "done more" in attack, but he also highlighted the changes in his team as they look to seal a place in the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday. (XINHUA)