La Liga 2016/17: Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu back for Malaga game
Barcelona have received much-needed fitness boost ahead of their La Liga clash against Malaga next weekend. The defensive trio of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu have returned from the sidelines and are expected to be available for selection when the reigning Spanish champions take on Malaga at the Camp Nou.
Both Pique and Alba were injured during Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League. Pique was withdrawn in the first half of the game after he was on the receiving end of a clumsy challenge from his compatriot, David Silva. Barcelona later confirmed that the centre-half has suffered a sprained ankle.
Alba picked up a hamstring injury whilst on international duty with Spain in early October. The full-back missed Barcelona’s league game against Deportivo La Coruna but the medical team gave him the green light to start against City in the Champions League. However, Alba played barely 10 minutes after he felt a strain in his left hamstring and was subsequently replaced by Lucas Digne.
Jeremy Mathieu is also back after recovering from a calf injury he picked up during Barcelona’s 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in the Catalan Super Cup three weeks ago. It was a night to forget for the Frenchman as he picked up an injury and it was his error that led to Felipe Caicedo’s goal.
Barcelona dearly missed Pique and Alba in their recent run of fixtures which exposed their defensive flaws. The five-time European champions suffered a bitter defeat at the Etihad earlier this month as Manchester City beat them 3-1 and Luis Enrique’s side have conceded six goals in their last four games.
Even though the return of Pique, Alba and Mathieu is a relief for the Catalan giants, the injury suffered by 22-year-old centre-half, Samuel Umtiti during the ongoing international break will be a cause for concern. The Frenchman ruptured his thigh during training and is expected to be out for three weeks.
Barcelona are currently second in the La Liga table, two points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, and have looked a bit of colour recently. They will be hoping to string together some fine performances starting with their game against Malaga.
However, they will have to do so without Andreas Iniesta, who is still recovering from a knee injury and it is still uncertain if he will be available for the El Clasico on the third of December.
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