Friday, March 1, 2024

Barcelona welcome back ‘key player’ Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Granada visit

SoccerNews in La Liga 10 Feb 2024

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Barcelona coach Xavi welcomed the “great news” that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is fit to return for Sunday’s must-win LaLiga clash against Granada.

Germany international Ter Stegen last played for Barcelona on November 12 after undergoing surgery on a lower back injury.

His replacement Inaki Pena has kept just two clean sheets in 10 league appearances, with Xavi’s side having fallen eight points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into this weekend’s fixtures.

“(Ter Stegen’s return) is very important, he’s a fundamental for us,” Xavi said at a press conference.

“I’m happy with Inaki, he’s shown he is a safe goalkeeper, but I’m also happy for Marc, we need him and he’s a key player for the squad.

“It’s great news.”

Ter Stegen’s return will come as a major boost to Xavi, but teenage forward Vitor Roque will be suspended for the visit of Granada after he was sent off in Barcelona’s victory against Alaves last weekend, while Oriol Romeu is also not fit enough to play.

However, Raphinha, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for the past month, is expected to be available.

Xavi also provided an injury update on Gavi, who was ruled out for the rest of the season back in November after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing for Spain.

Quizzed on his star midfielder’s recovery, Xavi said: “It’s going well. Better than hoped, it’s Gavi, he wants to be back now.

“He is having a text-book recovery. He’s taken it all in and he is doing everything. Even though he is not out on the field he is still a key part of the dressing room.”

The reigning Spanish champions welcome a troubled Granada side who have lost nine of their last 12 league matches to leave them 19th in the table, eight points adrift of safety.

However, the relegation-threatened side have picked up three draws and a win from their last four matches against Barca, and Xavi has issued a rallying call to his side’s fans for the match.

He said: “They are a difficult team who need points. They have improved defensively and they are more aggressive. We need the support of the fans to continue our good run.”

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