La Liga Preview: Osasuna v Barcelona
By Football News
Barcelona welcome back Lionel Messi for their trip to Osasuna after the striker returned to training on Monday following a thigh injury.
Messi missed their last two matches against Celtic in the UEFA Champions League and Real Valladolid in the league after aggravating his injury in the 2-0 win over Almeria, but he is back in contention.
The 26-year-old was also absent for Argentina's final two FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, but should be fit to face a side he scored six goals against last season.
Osasuna did not have a good time against Barca last term but they will take heart from the fact that they beat them at home in February 2012, and they come into the game on the back of a win against Malaga.
However, Gerardo Martino's side have enjoyed a perfect start to the campaign with eight wins out of eight and are also boosted by the return of Javier Mascherano, who has also been struggling with a thigh problem.
Osasuna coach Javi Garcia will be without Alvaro Cejudo through suspension, while he also has injury concerns over Raoul Loe (thigh), Roberto Torres (head), Echaide (knee), Miguel Flano (collarbone), and Nino (knee).
Goalkeeper Andres Fernandez is expected to play and the 26-year-old believes the hosts can cause an upset on Saturday.
"They are Barca, we know it will be very difficult, that nothing will be easy and that they can hurt us in just two passes," he said. "We will have to work hard, but at home we can hurt them.
"Here we are capable of taking points against any opponent and we are working towards that.
"The coach is putting across the idea that we can win this week. We are making efforts to unsettle them and it is better left unsaid so they do not take note."
As well as the return of Messi and Mascherano, Barca have also welcomed back Carles Puyol following his knee problems, although he may not be fit enough to face Osasuna.
Jordi Alba (thigh), Ibrahim Afellay and Isaac Cuenca (both knee) are likely to be out for the league leaders as they look to extend their winning start.