Saturday 19 January 2019

Spurs handed boost ahead of Champions League decider as Barcelona rule out Luis Suarez

Barcelona's Luis Suarez
Barcelona's Luis Suarez

Jonathan Veal

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has confirmed Luis Suarez will not play in their final Champions League Group B game with 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 will 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 team-sheet, 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. "Every game is an opportunity to show what you're capable of doing.

"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."

Valverde will be sending out a Barca team that will be aiming to win the game but he knows their task is made tougher by Tottenham's do-or-die predicament.

"Well, we expect a tough game because they have great physical and tactical strength," he added. "It is a complicated game because they also play for qualification.

"We will go out to win as we have done before. It is true that we are qualified and we have achieved it on our own merits.

"It's the same situation as last year. We will go out to win but we respect the competition and we want to win."

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

"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."

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