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Vidal stakes claim for Liverpool spot as Barca turn focus towards Champions League

00:57 GMT+3 24/04/2019
Vidal Suarez Barcelona
The Chilean could join the lineup as the club edges closer int heir pursuit of a treble

Barcelona earned a comfortable 2-0 win over Alaves on Tuesday which means they might be Spanish champions before they even play their next match, at Levante on Saturday.

Yet despite putting one hand on their 26th league title, which they will win should Atletico Madrid lose at Valencia on Wednesday, Barcelona hearts and minds are already on Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Liverpool.

Real Madrid’s three consecutive European conquests have created such a maelstrom at Barcelona that their domestic conquests have lost their sheen unless they come accompanied by a European Cup.

The treble is Barcelona’s dream and having won it in 2009 and 2015, hopes and expectations are rising. To achieve it, they must get past Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Picking his team to face Alaves, Ernesto Valverde was thinking about resting some key players like Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba ahead of next week, but also giving chances to some squad members who could still fight for a place in the side to take on the Reds.

Perhaps the player outside what is considered Valverde’s best XI with the best chance of breaking into the side is Arturo Vidal.

Against Alaves he continued his recent good form, a constant battling presence would would be able to give as good as he got against the strength of Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool’s workhorses might look to strangle Arthur, Barcelona’s passmaster, out of the game, but Vidal would offer some means of protection.

The Chilean could either feature instead of Arthur, which seems unlikely, or as well as him, should Valverde opt for more security.

Sacrificed would be either Philippe Coutinho, against his old side, or Ousmane Dembele.

Both started at Mendizorroza, which is rare as they usually slug it out for the same spot on the left of the attack, and neither impressed particularly.

Dembele still has not found his best form after returning from injury. The French winger at times has been sensational this season but it seems that as soon as he suffers a physical setback, he starts from square one.

His speed and skill ensure he’s always a danger but Valverde would be wise to consider the muscle Vidal offers as equally useful.

The less said about Coutinho the better.

One sensational strike against Manchester United aside, the Brazilian is still in his stupor. Having made an ugly gesture to his critics after that golazo which angered the Camp Nou, he regressed to his wallflower act against Alaves.

When Coutinho did appear it was uncalibrated, offering the wrong weight on his passes and miscalculated the trajectory of his shots.

The precision and coolness showed by Carles Alena, 21, to slot home the opening goal after a good ball from Sergi Roberto and dummy from Luis Suarez, was a lesson for the Brazilian.

One he did not heed, as he slashed a late effort wide with substitute Messi, who set him up, left looking distinctly unimpressed.

The game was done and dusted by that point, with Luis Suarez slamming home from the penalty spot.

Another step towards the title for Barcelona, but all eyes are on the Champions League.