Barcelona vs Tottenham Hotspur - Luis Suarez will not be risked against Tottenham

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2018 by PA

Barcelona vs Tottenham Hotspur - Luis Suarez will not be risked against Tottenham

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has confirmed Luis Suarez will not play in their Champions League Group B clash against Tottenham.

Barca are already through to the knockout stages as group winners and will not risk Suarez following a recent knee injury.

Valverde was not so open over whether Lionel Messi would play against Spurs, who have to match Inter Milan’s result against PSV to join the Spanish club in the last 16.

Inter will have one eye on Barca’s selection and whether Messi, who scored twice at Wembley in the return fixture, makes the teamsheet, but Valverde said the Serie A side can have no complaints if the maestro is dropped.

“There are sure to be rotations tomorrow, we just had a big game on Saturday,” Valverde told his pre-match press conference.

“It does not escape me that a player can be given respite because we played an important game (at the weekend).

“I know that Tottenham reserved players like (Harry) Kane, we could not do it. And there are players with discomfort and it does not fit into my plans, of course I play two games in three days.

“Luis will not play. In 24 hours I will answer you categorically (about Messi).

“And Inter has nothing to fear. If they had drawn or won, they would have no problem. We have to look after ourselves.”

Barca will pay particular attention to Kane, even if Valverde did swerve the answer when asked whether the England striker was good enough to play for the Nou Camp giants.

“He’s a great player, world class,” Valverde said. “An extraordinary striker who associates well, has an aerial game, is decisive in the area.

“I do not like to talk about players who are on other teams.

“We keep the maximum discretion but that does not stop us feeling a great respect for Kane and admire him.”

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino knows qualifying for the knockout phases will be special but not because of his connections across the city.

Pochettino, who spent 12 years as a player and manager at Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol, believes getting over the line would be a great achievement, given they amassed just one point from their opening three group games.

The Spaniard endured some painful viewing at the weekend as Barcelona romped to a 4-0 win in the Catalan derby against his old side and he knows what to expect.

“It’s going to be special in case we qualify,” he said. “To qualify would be special, only because of Tottenham not for having been at Espanyol or being an Espanyol fan.

“I’ve seen highlights of the derby. I know Barcelona very well. I know what they’re capable of doing. They’re not going to surprise us.

“If we want to deserve it we need to win against one of the best teams in the world in a huge stadium.

“If Inter get more points, it’s because we don’t deserve to be in the next round. But we have the possibility to qualify in our own hands. Everything depends on us.”

Pochettino added: “Tomorrow we are going to play against Barcelona. I am not focused on the starting XI. When you play against Barcelona, there is always a pressure to win.

“You play for not only winning games but for something special. Like us, when we play we are Tottenham and it is not important the name.”

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