Lionel Messi drops to the bench for Barcelona's final Champions League group game against Sporting Lisbon.
Lionel Messi has been dropped to the bench for Barcelona's final Champions League group game against Sporting Lisbon this evening.
With qualification to the next stage as Group D champions already confirmed, Ernesto Valverde makes eight changes to his starting XI following the disappointing 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Only Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez keep their places in the lineup against the Portuguese side, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Paulinho all joining Messi among the subs.
Samuel Umtiti and Andres Iniesta both miss tonight's game entirely due to respective muscular injuries.
Suarez is expected to be be joined up front by Paco Alcacer and Aleix Vidal, while Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes come into the middle of the park alongside Rakitic.
Thomas Vermaelen partners Pique in the heart of the defence, with Nelson Semedo on the right, Lucas Digne at left-back and Jasper Cillessen in between the sticks.
As for Sporting, Jorge Jesus makes four changes from the 1-0 league victory over Belenenses last Friday, with Alan Ruiz back in the starting XI and expected to lead the line with support from Bruno Fernandes, Marcos Acuna, William Carvalho and the returning Stefan Ristovski and Rodrigo Battaglia.
Bruno Cesar joins an otherwise-unchanged backline of Cristiano Piccini, Sebastian Coates and Jeremy Mathieu, while Rui Patricio is in goal.
Options on the bench for Jesus include Bas Dost, Gelson Martins and Daniel Podence.
Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Vermaelen, Pique, Digne; Rakitic, Gomes, D.Suarez; L.Suarez, Alcacer, Vidal
Subs: Ter Stegen, Busquets, Messi, Paulinho, Deulofeu, Alba, S.Roberto
Sporting Lisbon: Patricio; Piccini, Coates, Mathieu, Bruno Cesar; Battaglia, Carvalho; Ristovski, Fernandes, Acuna; Ruiz
Subs: Coentrao, Dost, Martins, Palhinha, Pinto, Podence, Salin
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