Tomorrow’s Champions League match is a big one. Tottenham Hotspur are at Camp Nou for a match against Barcelona, and Spurs know that they need to get a win or better Inter Milan’s match against PSV in order to escape in second place out of Group B.
There’s good news for Spurs — Tottenham released team news via Twitter and confirmed that Erik Lamela is back from injury with freshly sharpened elbows and is available for selection.
The bad news, however, is that both Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier did not make the trip to Spain, so third string fullback Kyle Walker-Peters, who today signed a new contract with the club, will play in their place. Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama, and Davinson Sanchez remain on the injury list.
TEAM NEWS:— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 10, 2018
➡️ @ErikLamela (thigh) has returned to training and is available for selection.
➡️ @Serge_Aurier (groin) is being assessed by medical staff and has not travelled.
➡️ @trippier2 (groin) is undergoing an individual preventive and conditioning programme. #COYS pic.twitter.com/S1kYIHBzP8
In his press conference at Camp Nou, Mauricio Pochettino confirmed KWP’s place in the starting lineup and said that he has the full faith of the coaching staff, despite the daunting matchup.
“Kyle Walker-Peters will have the option to play. I remind you that he won the U20 World Cup only a year ago. Playing at a place like this will make him strong and we have no doubts in him playing tomorrow.
“So happy to have three players in this position with different qualities. I think Kyle has the qualities to play. He needs to feel free. He’s a very relaxed player and person. Whatever happens tomorrow we hope he will be a massive success for this club.”
The other big question surrounding tomorrow’s match is what Barcelona will do with their lineup. The La Liga giants have already qualified for the next round and are coming off of a big rivalry match against Espanyol, Pochettino’s old club. There’s the possibility that, with nothing really to play for, Barca might opt to rest some of their best players like, y’know, Lionel Messi.
Here’s how Barca lined up for their rivalry match against Espanyol:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suárez, Dembélé
The implication is that a few of these players won’t be in the side against Spurs. In his pre-match press conference, Ernesto Valverde confirmed that there’d be some rotation, but wasn’t specific as to what that would look like.
Valverde: "There are sure to be rotations tomorrow; we just had a big game on Saturday. Every game is an opportunity to show what you're capable of doing."#BarçaSpurs pic.twitter.com/msMBly32be— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 10, 2018
Earlier today, it was announced that Luis Suarez would not play on Tuesday over ongoing concerns about a recent knee injury, and there were rumors that keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen would make way for Jasper Cillessen.
BREAKING: @FCBarcelona forward Luis Suarez will not play in the Champions League game against @SpursOfficial tomorrow #SSN pic.twitter.com/0ViaAceDbg— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 10, 2018
The biggest question is obviously “will Messi play” and there’s no good answer to that. Barca have another match this coming weekend against Levante, so it would make sense to sit him, at least initially, but that’s not confirmation and we probably won’t know until the lineups are announced tomorrow an hour before kick-off. Either way, Spurs will need to put together a very strong match against one of the best teams in the world, or their Champions League adventure will be over.