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Barca coach optimistic despite defenders' injuries


Barcelona, Dec 5 (IANS): Spanish football giants Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is confident that his team could overcome the injuries to their defenders in the upcoming Champions League match against Portugal's Sporting.

La Liga leader Barcelona is set to host the Portuguese club at the Camp Nou stadium, but the Catalan team will be without injured defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano, reports Efe.

"I am confident that those who play will do well as the squad is ready to resolve the problems which come up as we go along," Valverde said.

The Catalan club will have to count on defenders Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen for the final Champions League group match.

Barcelona, which has already qualified for the knockout stage, leads Group D, with 11 points, three points ahead of second-place Juventus, which will visit Olympiakos.

Sporting faces a must-win situation against Barcelona since it is in third place, with seven points, and can qualify for the knockout stage with a victory over Barça combined with a loss by Juventus.

Valverde said the Portuguese club would be tough, adding that Sporting was "a great team."

"We know about their potential, the fact they take this competition very seriously, and their need for a result to qualify," the coach said, referring to Sporting.

"They will look to beat us and as they need this win to advance from the group stages, they will have to be offensive," Valverde said.

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