Andres Iniesta a major doubt for Barcelona derby at Espanyol but Neymar returns from suspension

Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal
Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta is a major doubt for the Barcelona derby at Espanyol on Saturday (29 April) after the captain missed the Friday training session due to a muscle injury. However, Neymar is ready to return after missing the last three wins over Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Osasuna due to a ban.

Barcelona have managed to cope with Neymar's absence and to keep the pressure on Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title.

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The Catalans are level on points with Real Madrid but currently lead the table thanks the head-to-head-records, after Lionel Messi led them to a dramatic 3-2 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on weekend.

Yet, Real Madrid still have a game in hand against Celta de Vigo to turnaround the situation in their last five games of the season.

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Barcelona also secured a comfortable 7-1 victory over relegated Osasuna in their midweek game even though Luis Enrique made a number of changes in his starting line-up, resting key players like Iniesta, Luis Suarez or Samuel Umtiti so they are fresh for the visit to Espanyol.

Neymar will surely recover his place in the attack to form the MSN trident alongside Messi and Suarez.

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But the Barcelona boss has suggested that Iniesta's injury is only a minor blow after refusing to rule him out completely for the derby.

Asked in the press conference whether the captain would be ready to face Espanyol, Luis Enrique said: "He has some niggles. Tomorrow we will see if he can play."

If Iniesta misses the game, Andre Gomes could retain his place in the midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic after scoring a brace against Osasuna.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are yet to provide any update on the recovery of Jeremy Mathieu but the France centre-back is also expected to continue on the sidelines alongside long-term casualties Rafinha Alcantara and Aleix Vidal.

Barcelona will be playing after Real Madrid's corresponding home game with Valencia, meaning that Los Blancos could take the lead temporarily to add some pressure to the Catalans ahead of the derby.

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