Barcelona's Iniesta doubtful for Liga derby against Espanyol
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 29, 2017 08:37 AM
FILE - In this Sunday April 2, 2017 file photo, FC Barcelona's Andres Iniesta gestures during their Spanish La Liga soccer match against Granada in Granada, Spain. Barcelona has Neymar back from suspension but captain Andres Iniesta is in doubt for the local derby against Espanyol this weekend in the Spanish league. Iniesta is bothered by a right leg muscle injury and did not practice on Friday, April 28. (AP Photo/Daniel Tejedor, file)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Barcelona has Neymar back from suspension but captain Andres Iniesta is in doubt for the local derby against Espanyol this weekend in the Spanish league.
Iniesta is bothered by a right leg muscle injury and did not practice on Friday. He was rested in the 7-1 win over Osasuna on Wednesday, three days after he played from the start in the 3-2 win in the clasico against Madrid.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said he will wait as long as possible to see if the midfielder will be available.
If Iniesta can't play, his likely replacement will be Andre Gomes, who scored twice against Osasuna.
Iniesta has not been a regular starter as in previous seasons. Also, the Spain midfielder missed five games at the beginning of the season because of a left leg muscle injury.
Neymar is welcomed back after missing the last three games because of a red card in the 2-0 loss at Malaga on April 8. He served one match for the automatic suspension and two more for sarcastically applauding an assist referee after being sent off.
"He is ready to play," Luis Enrique said of Neymar. "He will be vital for us."
Barcelona has thrived against Espanyol, winning 11 of their last 12 games in official competitions. Espanyol's last victory was in the 2008-09 season, 17 matches ago.
Barcelona is tied for the league lead with Real Madrid, which has a game in hand. Madrid hosts Valencia on Saturday.
Madrid, which relinquished the league lead on head-to-head tiebreaker when it lost the clasico at home, returns to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to play a Valencia team that has lost two matches in a row and hasn't won in three rounds.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane did not say whether he will rest some starters for the Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid next week. Cristiano Ronaldo and some other players didn't play on Wednesday in the 6-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni