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Before resuming their Champions League campaign on Tuesday, FC Barcelona will be looking to consolidate their six-point lead at the top of the Liga table as they entertain Real Valladolid at the Camp Nou on Saturday evening (8.45pm CET).
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Third placed Atlético Madrid will have already finished their game at Rayo Vallecano when this one starts, while second placed Real Madrid entertain Girona on Sunday.
Barça go into the game having not played a midweek fixture, giving the squad a valuable chance to recharge, and manager Ernesto Valverde the opportunity to sit down and discuss his future, with an extra year being added to his contract.
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The leading goalscorer against Real Valladolid in the current Barça squad is, predictably enough, Leo Messi, with four goals in eight matches. The last two games against Los Pucelanos at the Camp Nou have seen the Argentinian score two goals and provide two assists.
It was while playing for Granada against Valladolid in January 2014 that Jeison Murillo scored what is to date his only Liga goal. Meanwhile, not one member of the current Valladolid squad has ever scored against the Catalans.
If he plays, this will be Gerard Pique’s 300th top fight appearance for FC Barcelona. So far, the defender has scored 24 goals and provided four assists.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (O Fenomeno) who starred for Barça in the 1996–97 season, became the 51% majority owner of Real Valladolid last September. He may be attending Saturday’s game at the stadium where he once played for a single campaign under coach Bobby Robson.
After having signed his new contract earlier on Friday, Ernesto Valverde told reporters that "The renewal was a simple decision for me. The Club and the team are good and everything progressed naturally. We now start a sequence of games in which we play in three competitions. We want to win again in La Liga."
Valladolid boss Sergio Gonzalez, a native of Catalonia, said on Friday that “Barça have had a week off and at home they tend to dominate matches … We won’t know if Ernesto will be rotating his squad until an hour before the game. I hope he does, but we’re expecting to face their strongest team.”
Ernesto Valverde has called up 18 players:
Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Piqué, I. Rakitic, Sergio, Coutinho, Suárez, Messi, O. Dembélé, Malcom, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Prince, S. Roberto, Aleñá, Vidal, Vermaelen and Iñaki Peña.
Arthur, Rafinha, Cillessen and Umtiti are still injured, while Todibo, Samper and Murillo are left out for tactical reasons.
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