Barcelona face Villarreal on Tuesday night as they look to strengthen their grip on the La Liga title with another win.
The Catalan giants sit 10 points clear at the top of the standings with just nine games to go this season, and so a win in midweek would certainly be another big step towards defending their crown.
However, they do have a crunch showdown with title rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday to consider, while they return to Champions League action next week when they face Manchester United in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
In turn, as noted by the fans below, the clash with Villarreal is arguably the perfect opportunity for coach Ernesto Valverde to rest key players and rotate his side to give others an opportunity to impress.
In particular, they have demanded that talisman Lionel Messi is rested to keep him fresh and clear of injuries at such a crucial time of the season.
However, Valverde addressed that in his pre-match press conference on Monday and remained coy on whether or not the Barcelona icon would get a chance to rest ahead of the weekend.
“There is never a suitable scenario to rest a player like Leo, but we’ll see tomorrow,” he told the media on Monday, as noted by Mundo Deportivo.
Messi, 31, has scored 41 goals and provided 21 assists in 38 appearances across all competitions so far this season, and so on one hand, it’s easy to understand where Valverde is coming from as he won’t want to rest him and risk dropping points.
However, the Spanish tactician surely has to look at the bigger picture and resting Messi for this encounter to keep him fresh for Atleti and United is undoubtedly the sensible strategy.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 1, 2019
Rest Messi FFS
— Dale Anders (@DaleAndersFCB10) April 1, 2019
You have to rest our first team please ?? we want UEFA Champions league Title
— Elphas Mashamba (@shambloguitar) April 1, 2019
Rest messi ……we have athletico on Saturday ,and man u next week
— scotty davies (@scottydavies2) April 1, 2019
What is this stupidity?
Can’t Valverde just rest Messi?
Why depending on him so much?!
We have other players who should be tasked with leading the team so as to keep Messi fresh for UCL
— Biola Gbemms (@HorlarJhidey) April 1, 2019
Messi should rest tomorrow (he has complained from his groin for weeks), at least see how the game goes without him. Then push him in the 2nd half if necessary.
— Panda (@PandaNebula) April 1, 2019
START MALCOM, PLAY COUTINHO ON MIDFIELD, REST MESSI AND SUAREZ
— princesa dos campos (@guilfinho) April 1, 2019
start Malcolm and Umtiti, rest Messi and Suarez, thank you!
— Tobak Grüntee (@TGruntee) April 1, 2019