Ernesto Valverde has his second homecoming this week as he visits his former club, Olympiacos, in Greece. The manager has a chance to secure a berth in the knockout stage for Barcelona. With that in mind, here are three things he needs to do against Olympiacos:
1. Play 4-3-3
The last time Ernesto Valverde faced Olympiacos, he had all the time in the world to build attacks from the back despite playing with ten men. The Greeks will not be as quiet at home, but their obvious intimidation is a major loophole waiting to be exploited. Ernie may not trust the 4-3-3 but it gives Barcelona the attacking edge needed to end the tie early.
2. Rest a few regulars
Rumours are floating around that Lionel Messi may have some discomfort in his hamstring. If that is indeed the case, there is absolutely no reason to start him. The same should be the case for any starter who isn’t at 100% physically. We need to win but not at the cost of our players.
3. Start Paulinho over Rakitic
I was strongly against the idea of Paulinho at Barcelona but after his powerful performances, I take my words back. Paulinho has been impressive in his time on the pitch and is currently a notch above Ivan Rakitic in the pecking order. The goal-scoring midfielder has all the tools to be a box-to-box player for Barcelona and 90 minutes in Greece will be a good opportunity to transition him towards being a starter.