Barca coach enjoying luxury of choice as empty Camp Nou awaits

Barcelona (AFP)

Barcelona coach Quique Setien rejoiced Monday in having key players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez fit for the hectic La Liga title run-in ahead of hosting struggling Leganes at a Camp Nou devoid of fans.

Suarez made his first appearance since knee surgery in January, replacing Antoine Griezmann in the second half as Barca shrugged off a three-month La Liga coronavirus lockdown with a 4-0 stroll in Mallorca on Saturday.

Setien (R) watching Barca's rout in Palma on Saturday
Setien (R) watching Barca’s rout in Palma on Saturday JAIME REINA AFP

And Messi’s two assists, a goal, and 90 minutes played suggest Barca’s captain has overcome the tightness in his thigh from earlier this month.

Setien’s side welcome Leganes on Tuesday while two points clear of Real Madrid, who face Valencia 48 hours later.

Explaining the Griezmann substitution the coach said the French World Cup winner was an “undeniable” plus for his team.

“He’s played in practically every match but now there are more players and you have to spread game time around more.

“As the matches come and go there will be changes. The idea is that all the players are fresh, that they can handle the run of games with the guarantee of not getting injured so that they can all give their best.”

Turning to Messi he praised his ace act’s performance: “That’s why he’s the best player in the world and we are fortunate to have him.”

While his players may be present, Setien was unsure of how his team would cope performing in front of an empty Camp Nou, with matches closed to fans to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“Let’s hope that it won’t have any effect on us and that we play well and win.

“Football loses some of its fuel when staged in front of empty stands.”

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