Plane crash survivor Alan Ruschel will return to the field for Chapecoense in a pre-season friendly against LaLiga giants Barcelona next month.
It has been a time of mourning and rebuilding for Chapecoense since a plane carrying the Brazilian squad, technical commission and a number of journalists for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed en route to Medellin two days before the match was due to take place, killing 71 people on board, in November.
Ruschel was one of three players to survive the crash – along with Neto and Jackson Follman.
And the 27-year-old defender is set to make his remarkable comeback in the Joan Gamper Trophy match at Camp Nou on August 7.
A statement from Chapecoense read: “Alan’s return represents an important step in his recuperation as well as for the club’s reconstruction.
“Considering the exceptional relevance, the importance and magnitude of the match against the classic Spanish team – in one of the temples of world football – it was understood that the game is the ideal occasion for a return.”
Barca and Chapecoense – who sacked head coach Vagner Mancini just seven months into the club’s rebuild – will pay homage to the victims in the 52nd edition of the Joan Gamper Trophy, with the Spanish powerhouse hoping to “help Chapecoense rebuild institutionally and recover the competitive level it had before the tragedy”.
With the help of a large number of loanees, Chapecoense have undergone a remarkable revival in 2017.
The Brazilians won the Santa Catarina state championship in May, after edging Avai in a two-legged play-off to retain the title they claimed in 2016, while they also made their Copa Libertadores debut – finishing third in the group stage after being deducted a point for fielding an ineligible player.
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