Fati set for Barcelona return against Real Mallorca after three-month absence

By Sports Desk April 30, 2022

Ansu Fati will feature for Barcelona against Real Mallorca for the first time in three months after sustaining a hamstring injury, Blaugrana coach Xavi confirmed.

Barca have lost their last three home games in all competitions for just the second time in history, last doing so under Louis van Gaal between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

Defeat against Rayo Vallecano, who became the first promoted team to complete a LaLiga double over Barca since Salamanca in 1997-98, left Xavi's side in third – 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

While Madrid need just a point against Espanyol on Saturday to secure the title, Barca will be boosted by the return of Fati against Mallorca on Sunday.

The 19-year-old has suffered an injury-hit campaign, last featuring in January – and not at all in LaLiga since November – managing just five league appearances this season for his 213 minutes of action.

"We will give the squad list and Ansu will be there," Xavi told reporters at a pre-match news conference. 

"He feels very comfortable and is making efforts to return. He will play at least a few minutes. He is happy, he is smiling, a special player.

"We take great care of him, we know he is a special player. For now the feelings are very good, peaks of speed, physically very good."

Fati will return to a Barca side that has scored with only one of the last 46 shots they have attempted in LaLiga, and with one of their last 57 at Camp Nou in the competition.

However, Xavi insists his side need to collectively respond instead of relying on the teenager to make things happen when he features.

"The focus has to be on the team. I understand football as a collective game. If it's only one player, when he fails the team doesn't shoot," he added.

"Everyone has to shoot. Ansu is a different player, he has to be very important from now on.

"But there is no specific focus on him or anyone, I have never understood it that way."

Barca will be without midfielder Pedri as the talented youngster continues to recover from a hamstring injury sustained against Eintracht Frankfurt earlier in April.

The Blaugrana have won eight of 10 LaLiga games that Pedri has started, in comparison to just 10 victories in 23 league games without the Spain international in the starting line-up this season.

Xavi provided a positive update on Pedri as he suggested he may be without centre-back Gerard Pique against Mallorca.

"Pedri is training separately and has a good feeling," he added. "Pique has a tendon problem. We'll see tomorrow, today he was more sore.

"Nico [Gonzalez] broke his finger in a collision with Ansu. A shame because we don't have plenty of midfielders, but that's football."

One midfielder that could leave his mark, though, is the out of favour Frenkie de Jong, who was seemingly unhappy after his substitution in Barca's last game.

"We had a very good face-to-face talk," Xavi said of De Jong. 

"It's obvious that this change frustrated him, but I have to look out for the team. He's had excellent games, but he has to be constant.

"He's capable and is here to make a difference. He's a very important player for the present and for the future".

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