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Neymar back as Barca prepare to face 'brave' Rayo

English.news.cn   2014-02-15 07:44:50

MADRID, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian striker Neymar is likely to make his return to action as FC Barcelona prepare to take on a ' brave' Rayo Vallecano side in the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Brazilian travelled with the Barca side for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final away to Real Sociedad on Wednesday but took no part in the action. Now with the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City just around the corner, Neymar will get game time.

Barca coach, Tata Martino, said in his Friday press conference that the forward had recovered well from the badly twisted ankle that has sidelined him for over a month.

"He is training well and I have seen him looking confident in training," said Martino, who added the Brazilian could play as either a winger or a central striker.

Martino also said that Leo Messi, who scored a magnificent goal on Wednesday, was also in condition to play, despite having suffered from flu during the week.

However, midfielder Xavi Hernandez is not included in the Barca squad as the Barca coach wants to rest him ahead of next week's vital trip to Manchester. Xavi's absence could see Alex Song trusted with covering for the Spain international, while youngster Sergio Roberto could also be given the chance along with Marc Bartra and perhaps Martin Montoya.

Despite beating Rayo in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, the Madrid based team did something that no other side has done to Barca in years and that is control more of the ball than the league leaders.

That caused a minor crisis of conscience at Barca earlier in the year and the debate over how much Martino may or may not have changed Barca's traditional passing game has raged ever since.

However, while Barca may have changed their tactics, one man who is keeping true to his beliefs is Rayo coach, Paco Jemez, who has promised his side will not hold anything back in the Camp Nou.

Jemez's side has always looked to take the game to their rivals and although this season this has seen them suffer some heavy defeats, it paid dividends last week when they thrashed Malaga 4-1 to climb closer to safety and Jemez announced there will be no changes just because now they are facing Barca.

"We will be brave, because if we aren't there is no chance at all," said the coach, who added that his side will look to pressure Barca high up the pitch and once again rob possession from them in order to launch attacks on the break.

Barca have struggled to defend against sides that hit them on the break in recent times, but Martino will also know that if his side's midfield functions, even without Xavi they have the taken to have Rayo chasing shadows until they tire and then with Neymar and Messi, Barca have the firepower to really hurt them.

Editor: Shen Qing
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