Philippe Coutinho, Andrés Iniesta, and Javier Mascherano are on their way to a return to action following injury layoffs. They’re back in training as FC Barcelona prepares a crucial match against Espanyol.
Barça lost the first leg of the Copa del Rey tie 0-1 to their crosstown rivals, so they’ll be needing a win - by either 2 goals or by a score of 1-0 followed by a shootout - to stay alive in the competition.
Due to Thomas Vermaelen’s injury, Mascherano could be on the bench. It remains to be seen if Coutinho is ready for his debut for Barcelona, against the team he spent one season on loan for. We will also see if Iniesta is ready to take part in some minutes.
Either Iniesta or Coutinho would be a big help to bolster the side’s creativity. On the other hand, they may not yet be fully fit. Aside from a general concern to keep the players in optimal shape, coach Ernesto Valverde also has to think about the looming UEFA Champions League clash (at least as far as Mascherano and Iniesta are concerned) with Chelsea.