Well rested Barca favorites to qualify for Champions League semifinals

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-15 16:56:36|Editor: zh
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MADRID, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Ousmane Dembele looks likely to join Luis Suarez and Leo Messi in the FC Barcelona attack as the leaders of the Liga Santander aim to qualify for the semifinals of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Barca take a 1-0 advantage from the away leg against Manchester United to the Camp Nou and are clear favorites to reach the semifinal for the first time since they last lifted the title in 2015.

The past three seasons have all seen Barca crash out in the quarterfinals and they will no doubt remember how last season a 3-0 defeat away to Roma saw them go out after a 4-1 first leg win.

Last season Barca looked tired and flat in Rome, but Ernesto Valverde was able to rest nearly his entire starting 11 at the weekend to ensure his key players are fresh for Tuesday night.

Dembele, who is working his way back to full fitness after injury, was the only likely outfield starter who began Saturday's 0-0 draw away to Huesca, with Barca's ample lead at the top of Spain's Liga Santander allowing Valderde the luxury of leaving players such as Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Leo Messi back home in Barcelona.

They will all start on Tuesday, along with Jordi Alba, who came on as a second half substitute at the weekend.

Busquets and right back Nelson Semedo will have to be careful to avoid a yellow card against Manchester United as another booking would see them suspended for the semifinal (if they qualify), but Busquets, perhaps more than most will have benefited from a rest after a poor performance in Old Trafford last week.

Barcelona looked a better side than Manchester United last week, but will be wary after the English team produced an incredible comeback in the last round, fighting back from a 2-0 home defeat to Paris Saint Germain to win the away leg 3-1 and go through on away goals.

20 years ago saw United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lead an incredible late fightback for United to win the Champions League title in the Camp Nou with two late goals against Bayern Munich, but Solskjaer said on Saturday he would use the fightback against Paris to inspire the current generation of players.

Ander Herrera is still injured, while Luke Shaw is suspended, but with Antony Martial, Marcos Rashford and Paul Pogba in the side, Solskjaer's side have the talent to make Barca suffer, although one suspects Dembele, Messi and Suarez may be too much for the English side's suspect back four.