Barcelona handed fitness boost with winger set to return in Champions League

Barcelona winger Raphinha is expected to be available for the Champions League last-16 second leg against Napoli following an injury scare.

The Brazilian forward was substituted in just the 37th minute of Friday night’s 1-0 win over Mallorca after taking a blow to his ankle and there were fears he could be missing as Xavi’s side attempt to reach the last eight in Europe’s top club competition.

Barca are already without key midfielders Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, who both suffered fitness blows in the goalless draw with Athletic Club. 18-year-old Gavi is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.

However, AS report the first scans and checks have ruled out a serious injury for Raphinha and the 27-year-old should make the matchday squad when Napoli visit Catalonia on Tuesday night.

Manager Xavi had already quietened worries after Friday’s win, which extended their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions, insisting Raphinha was brought off to avoid making the knock any worse.

Raphael Dias Belloli 'Raphinha'Raphael Dias Belloli 'Raphinha'

Raphinha should be fit to feature in the Champions League / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

He said: “Raphinha’s substitution was for precaution. It was just a blow, in principle he’s not injured.”

Barca were pegged back in the first leg at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in February. Robert Lewandowski struck just after the hour mark to put the Blaugrana ahead, but Victor Osimhen netted the equaliser in his first game for Napoli since December, having featured at the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria.

Ferran Torres is also expected to return to the fray in midweek, but left-back Alejandro Balde is out for the season while Marcos Alonso has missed 22 games with a back problem.

Lamine Yamal’s 73rd-minute strike was enough to earn Barca victory against Mallorca, with their next outing in La Liga coming next Sunday when they visit Atletico Madrid. The two teams are currently separated by six points.


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