Barcelona already have their plan prepared for Manchester United’s visit in the Champions League. Ernesto Valverde doesn’t want to speculate and plans to play on the front foot. Therefore, the trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele will return.
The last time they were on the pitch together was against Lyon in the last round. Dembele came on for the final 20 minutes in place of Philippe Coutinho and Barça pulled clear with another three goals. From 2-1 to 5-1 thanks to efforts from Messi, Gerard Pique and Dembele.
Valverde’s not been able to use the trident since as Dembele aggravated a hamstring problem in that game. The Frenchman was back on the bench for the 1-0 win over United in the first leg last week but the coach didn’t want to risk him.
The aim has always been for him to be 100 percent for the second leg at Camp Nou.
On Tuesday, with United’s win in Paris in the last round as the precedent, Valverde won’t sit back. Paris Saint-Germain thought they were through and ended up being shocked. Valverde wants things tied up as quickly as possible following the win at Camp Nou.
A return to the trident guarantees directness, pace and goals. It helped hammer PSV (4-0) earlier in the season and Espanyol at Cornella (0-4). Dembele’s been ahead of Coutinho, when both are fit, ever since.
Injuries are the only thing which have held him back but he was fit for the back-to-back Clasicos recently. Dembele started both games — two wins — ahead of Coutinho as Barça qualified for the Copa del Rey final and took big steps towards winning La Liga.