Barcelona’s shock defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League changed the dynamics of the group.
A win on the night would have guaranteed them a spot in the knockouts and put them in pole position to finish top of the group, but the defeat resulted in the contrary.
The team’s clash against Porto midweek, thus, is of serious importance. If Barcelona do not take all three points against the Portuguese side, they will seriously jeopardise not only their chances of finishing as leaders but also their very qualification.
As revealed by Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona will be boosted by Sergi Roberto’s return for the fixture midweek. The club captain has been out of action since a training injury he suffered in October but has returned to group training.
Xavi confirmed the news of Roberto’s fitness as part of his pre-game press conference ahead of the Rayo Vallecano clash. He could thus look to deploy the captain at right-back on the night, or more likely in midfield after Gavi’s ACL injury.
The German question
Barcelona’s draw at Vallecas last night served as a big blow in the team’s bid to push for the title. Yet, the fact remains that Xavi was without many key stars on the night, one of whom was Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The German missed the game owing to discomfort in his lower back, but the club were optimistic about his return for the midweek clash.
MD add that his situation is not all that clear. Ter Stegen did not train in perfect condition on Sunday and continued his work on the sidelines. The dressing room is confident he can make it in time to face Porto, albeit with a sense of caution.