FC Barcelona take on AS Roma in their Group E meeting on Wednesday, and will once again be without the services of Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen.
There are no injury doubts for FC Barcelona ahead of their UEFA Champions League opener, with the injured players all decisively being ruled out ahead of the clash against AS Roma. Manager Luis Enrique will, however, likely welcome Lionel Messi back into the starting line-up, after the Argentina international was left on the bench for Saturday’s league fixture at Atl tico Madrid.
Meanwhile, AS Roma manager Rudi Garc a revealed there are doubts over the fitness levels of centre-backs Antonio RA?diger and Leandro CastA?n, neither of whom are 100% ready for the FC Barcelona game at the Stadio Olimpico.
Vermaelen ruled out after picking up calf injury on Saturday
Just when it felt as though the Belgian international was ready to cement his place in the FC Barcelona starting XI, yet another injury has ruled him out for three weeks, which rules him out of contention for the match against AS Roma.
Dani Alves (muscle), Claudio Bravo (calf) and Douglas (hamstring) continue to be out injured, and will not be fit to make a return in the Champions League opener. Fortunately for Luis Enrique, the manager has no other injury issues to worry about, and with Sergi Roberto impressing in his new role at right-back, the Catalans can still field a strong back-four when they take on the Italian side.
Lionel Messi, meanwhile, is expected to return to the starting line-up. The FC Barcelona manager spoke at his pre-match press conference ahead of the game, and declared that the Argentine was the best player in history.
RA?diger and CastA?n doubts for Group E encounter
Although AS Roma manager Rudi Garc a has been able to use Italy international Daniele de Rossi at centre-back, the game against FC Barcelona might just require him to use natural defenders against the formidable attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis SuA?rez.
Unfortunately for the Serie A side, centre-backs Antonio RA?diger and Leandro CastA?n are not fully yet fully match-fit according to the French manager. Addressing his pre-match press conferemce, the 51-year-old is quoted by the club’s official website as saying: “Rudiger was hurt when he signed, he needed to recover and regain full fitness, which is what he’s currently doing.
I gave him a lot of playing time at Frosinone. As for Castan, let’s not forget he was out for a year, he’s getting there and we made the most of the international break to get him working. He needs training sessions and playing time. He’s not yet 100% but he’s so motivated. He’s an excellent player and a great man.
“I have to manage him as best I can and he’s training individually at the moment both for his own good and the benefit of the team. Either way, we’re relaxed with regards to our backline because De Rossi can do a really good job in there, as he showed against Juventus.”