ERNESTO VALVERDE paid Manchester United a compliment by resting his first-team for Barcelona’s 0-0 draw at Huesca on Saturday.
Although Barca were clearly in control of the 1-0 win at Old Trafford last Wednesday, they are leaving nothing to chance with their team selections.
Huesca, beaten 8-2 at Camp Nou earlier in the season, put up a bit of a fight against the second string on Saturday.
It will be a very different team on Tuesday because the big guns – including Lionel Messi – have been declared fit to face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
It is shaping up to be a grand affair, with Barcelona in the box seat after Luke Shaw’s unfortunate first half own goal at Old Trafford.
United, boasting surprise wins at Juve and PSG this season, still believe they are in with a chance.
YOU KAN DO IT
EVEN without Harry Kane on Wednesday, Tottenham will still fancy themselves to score at Manchester City.
Kane’s goal-scoring record is formidable, but Spurs undoubtedly have more movement and flexibility up front with Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min.
That electrifying pace caused City all sorts of problems last Tuesday when Son’s goal settled their Champions League quarter-final first leg.
City are overwhelming favourites to go through, but Mauricio Pochettino’s forwards will be a handful at the Etihad.
HUGH IN FOR A GRILLING
WHATEVER the outcome of Brighton’s crunch game with Cardiff tomorrow, Chris Hughton will have a conversation with the power-brokers at the end of the season.
Hughton is admired for his work at the Amex, taking the club into the Premier League for the first time and keeping them there.
But things have gone wonky on the south coast, with four successive defeats culminating in Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth.
Hughton is an honourable and dignified man, but that does not exempt him from a grilling at the end of the campaign.
PULIS-BALL will never be entertaining, but it is usually effective.
The Middlesbrough fans demanding Tony Pulis’ dismissal when they imploded with six successive defeats are suddenly a lot more optimistic.
After their win at home to Hull on Saturday with four left to play, they are only one spot off the final play-off berth.
Watching Boro has not been easy this season, but even the likes of in-form Aston Villa would be wary of facing any team Pulis puts out in a pressurised play-off game.
PASS ON PASSING
THE possession stats look good on paper, but this is doing nothing for the Premier League.
It is tough to watch Crystal Palace, scared to death in front of their own fans, play like this at Selhurst Park against Manchester City.
They are not alone – City are obsessed with keep-ball, keeping it in circulation for as long as possible in order to wear down the will of the opposition.
We know that Pep will never tire of it because he has access to the best players in the world, courtesy of Abu Dhabi cash.
Even so, the onus is still on home teams to come out and give them a game. Palace, even when they made it 2-1, never did.
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