South American stars set to feature for Barcelona

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said he will have forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez available for the derby against Espanyol on Saturday.

Messi, who scored twice in the reverse fixture which Barcelona won 4-0 in December, was ruled out of Argentina’s second international match against Morocco with a groin injury, while Suarez has recovered from a sprained ankle.

When asked if the Argentinian striker would be 100 per cent, Valverde told the Spanish media: “We think so. He’s been carrying a discomfort for a while, but we’re trying to get him back.

“He had a few days of rest. We will be careful with him because he is vital for the rest of the season.”

Barcelona currently sit at the top of LaLiga with a 10-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid and are 32 points ahead of Saturday’s opponents, however Valverde, a former Espanyol player and coach, insisted both sides would have an added incentive for the match.

“We have in mind that it’s a derby, which is very motivating for us and them,” he said.

“After this break is the decisive part of the season and we have three games this week.

“We know what we’re up against. Each match has a lot of importance and there’s less time to recover.”

Sergio Garcia is relishing Saturday's derby
Sergio Garcia is relishing Saturday’s derby (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Espanyol forward Sergio Garcia insists his side are going into the Barcelona derby to win.

“A derby is always special,” he told

“They are our city rivals and we are looking forward to the day of the match and to achieve a good result.

“In this type of game you never know. (The Camp Nou) is a very difficult ground but we are going with clear ideas and with the purpose of getting three points.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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