Valverde excited by Messi and Suarez rekindlng partnership
Madrid (AFP) –
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has said it is a huge boost to have Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez back together again and hopes the pair can reignite their deadly partnership as soon as possible.
Barca play at home to Sevilla on Sunday in La Liga, when they could register a fourth consecutive victory after league wins over Villarreal and Getafe before their Champions League success against Inter Milan on Wednesday.
Suarez scored twice against Inter, including a late winner set up by Messi, who was making only his second start of the season at the Camp Nou following calf and thigh injuries. Suarez also suffered a calf injury in August.
Together, the pair scored 76 goals for Barcelona last season.
"It is clear they have both now recovered," Valverde said in a press conference on Saturday.
"They are crucial for us, they have some catching up to do because of their injuries but they have to find their connection again. This is an important match."
Antoine Griezmann started alongside Messi and Suarez in a front three against Inter but the Frenchman was quiet and his place could come under threat.
Ousmane Dembele is fit again after shaking off a hamstring strain while Ansu Fati is close to recovering from a knee problem and could be an option against Sevilla. The 21-year-old Carles Perez has also impressed.
"Every game is different, it can be one player for one game, another for another," Valverde said.
"We will see who plays. We have Griezmann and Dembele and we also have another possibility, which is Carles Perez."
On Fati's fitness, Valverde said: "I am feeling optimistic, we will assess today whether he is ready or not. He is young, he still needs to mature physically and get used to the demands at this level.
"When a youngster like this comes through, everyone wants them to be thrown in the deep end all the time, but we forget he is only 16 years old."
Jordi Alba has been out for almost three weeks with a thigh injury but trained too on Saturday and could return.
Sevilla have made a decent start to the season under their new coach Julen Lopetegui. Like Barcelona, they have 13 points after seven games played, five points behind frontrunners Real Madrid.
"Games against Sevilla are always intense," Valverde said.
© 2019 AFP