Barca to make late Dembele call for Lyon, says Valverde

Barca to make late Dembele call for Lyon, says Valverde

Barcelona will make a late decision on the fitness of Ousmane Dembele ahead of their Champions League second leg against Lyon, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Tuesday .

Dembele sustained a minor hamstring strain against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday and is a doubt for the game at the Camp Nou, where Lyon arrive after a 0- 0 draw in the first leg .

“We will see how he is and make a decision later, ” Valverde said .

“ It is an important match but we cannot take any risks . If he isn’t fit , he will have to wait for the next opportunity ,” he added .

Dembele’s absence could mean a start for Philippe Coutinho , who has struggled in recent weeks and was whistled off by a minority of Barcelona fans when substituted last weekend .

Signed for 160 million euros ( $ 180 million ) from Liverpool just over a year ago , Coutinho has started 16 of Barcelona ’s 27 La Liga games this season .

Asked if he had spoken to the Brazilian about his form , Valverde said , “The way we handle the players is a private matter . What we want is for them to give us their best and we expect a lot from him .”

The pressure is on Coutinho , and Barca , to deliver against Lyon on Wednesday as they aim to make amends for a disappointing run of three consecutive quarter- final exits in the Champions League .

“The fact that Paris Saint -Germain and Madrid have been eliminated tells you how hard the competition is and warns us to be vigilant ,” Valverde said .

“The pressure is on to progress but we focus on the game and if we generate the same chances as we did in the first leg , we will go through. ”

Madrid sacked Santiago Solari and re -appointed Zinedine Zidane as coach on Monday after they lost to Ajax in the last 16 , a defeat that came after consecutive losses to Barcelona .

“He ’ s a great coach ,” Valverde said of Zidane. “We look forward to facing him next season .”

( AFP )

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