Ernesto Valverde has just three players sidelined through injury as Barcelona prepare to host Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Barcelona play hosts to Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Saturday, aiming to complete an entire calendar year without dropping a single point at home in La Liga. Ahead of the visit of Juan Carlos Unzue’s men, Ernesto Valverde has very little to worry about, as far injuries are concerned.
While the Barcelona boss continues to remain without three key first-team players – Javier Mascherano (hamstring), Rafinha (knee) and Ousmane Dembele (hamstring) – each of the absentees is expected to return at some point in December.
The good news is that Gerard Pique is back in contention in La Liga after serving his one-match ban last weekend against Valencia. Valverde can also call upon Andre Gomes (thigh) and Sergi Roberto (hmstring) following their return from injury, with the latter in contention to start on Saturday after Nelson Semedo was omitted from the matchday squad.
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The Barcelona manager did not give any reason for Semedo’s absence during his pre-match press conference, but he did provide an update on Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha, claiming that the duo are slowly inching towards their return to action.
“Dembélé’s progression is going well. We think he could be back soon but we don’t want to take any risks given the amount of time he has been injured. In theory, we won’t have him back until after Christmas.”
“But, we will see how he goes in the next few days and when he can rejoin training with the rest of the squad. We think we have to be cautious, at the moment he [Rafinha] feels good and he is looking forward to rejoining the group.”
While Dembele and Rafinha continue to bide their time to make their respective returns, the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have returned to the matchday squad after being rested for the Copa Del Rey tie against Real Murcia.
As far as Celta Vigo are concerned, Juan Carlos Unzue is without Sergi Gomez, with the game coming too soon for him following his recovery from a calf injury. Jonny will miss his first game of the season due to a one-match suspension after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the league campaign.