Madrid, Nov 26: Both FC Barcelona and Valencia face vital home games which could decide their respective fates in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
A win for Barca at home to Borussia Dortmund would seal their place in the last 16 of the competition, but any other result would leave their qualification in the balance and perhaps needing to avoid defeat away to Inter Milan in their last group match in December.
Given Barca's erratic performances away from home this season, that is something coach Ernesto Valverde would probably prefer to avoid, but he has some selection issues ahead of Wednesday night, with central defender Gerard Pique suspended and Clement Lenglet working to recover from a calf injury.
If Lenglet is fit, he will partner Samuel Umtiti (who has not played consecutive matches in over a year) at the heart of the Barca defense, but if not then young Frenchman Jean-Clair Todibo could form part of a defense which also includes Junior Firpo at left-back and perhaps Moussa Wague on the right.
Sergio Busquets will return in midfield and it is unlikely that Valverde will use four strikers after seeing his side struggle in Leganes last Saturday, so either Ousmane Dembele or Antoine Griezmann will probably have to settle for a place on the bench. Valencia entertain Chelsea with things finely balanced in Group H, with both sides and Dutch champions Ajax all level on seven points.
Valencia won in London earlier in the season and a win in this return match would give them the advantage on head-to-head goal difference if the group ended with all three sides level on points. However, failure to beat Frank Lampard's talented but inexperienced side would almost certainly leave Los Che needing to win their last game away to Ajax to get out of the tightest qualification group.
Valencia lost away to Real Betis at the weekend, and have doubts over the fitness of central defender Ezequiel Garay, who is struggling with a back problem. (UNI-XINHUA)