Barcelona face Villarreal on Tuesday night, and their fans were delighted with coach Ernesto Valverde for one particular reason before kick-off.
The Catalan giants host La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday night, before travelling to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie next Wednesday.
With such crucial fixtures coming up, the pressure was on Valverde to rotate and rest key players, and that is exactly what he did against Villarreal.
Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic were all left out of the starting line-up, giving them a chance to regroup and feel fresh ahead of facing Atleti at the weekend.
That’s assuming that they aren’t needed on Tuesday night though, as Valverde will also want to restore their 10-point lead at the top of the table and maintain their momentum in their bid to win a treble this season.
Nevertheless, having rarely left the influential trio out all season, it’s a sensible move from the Barcelona boss as he’ll hope that others can step in and deliver in their absence.
As noted in the tweets below, many supporters were also delighted with the fact that Malcom was being given a chance to impress, a rare occurrence this season given the Brazilian ace has only made 16 appearances prior to this week.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 2, 2019
Rotation? Valverde? I’m dreaming
— Jon (@Jon_V2107) April 2, 2019
Valverde rotated ? pic.twitter.com/CSkEUnZWuA
— ? (@Barzaboy) April 2, 2019
— Tibor Almasi ??/??/?? (@TibbeLaMaestro) April 2, 2019
— Dembelism (@Dembelismo_et) April 2, 2019
— madan (@EnjoyArthur) April 2, 2019
Yes!!!! Messi is resting and malcom is starter!!!!!!!?????
— Cesar (@Cesar_b1010) April 2, 2019
Messi, Pique, Rakitic getting much rest ?
— Mamoun (@Mamounjr10) April 2, 2019
Good line-up! I’m happy for Malcolm as he’s getting some playing time! And I’m happy that some of our main players are being rested, including Messi. ?? They deserve a rest.
— Jordan95 HD (@jpglover95) April 2, 2019
Yesssss we are resting Messi
— Antonieta Elao?? (@AntonietaElao) April 2, 2019
Thank you for resting Messi EV
— ffm ?? (@loyalmessi) April 2, 2019