Neymar, recovered from mumps, is ready to return this weekend for Barcelona


Barcelona will be bolstered by the return of Brazilian forward Neymar for Saturday’s home match against Malaga. Neymar missed Barcelona’s UEFA Super Cup final as well as the Spanish Super Cup and last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Athletic Bilbao after being sidelined with mumps. However, the 23-year-old, who scored 29 goals and set up seven more to help Barcelona win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble last season, is fit to play.

“Neymar has a special physique,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said on the club’s official website. “He gets in shape really fast.

“That opens the door for him to have the possibility of playing.”

SEE MORE: Barcelona dismiss Neymar’s Manchester United link, plan to offer star new contract.

Barcelona will begin their Champions League title defense at Luis Enrique’s former club Roma next month. The defending European champions will also take on Bayer Leverkusen and BATE in Group E.

“To return to the Stadio Olimpico will be special,” Luis Enrique said. “We have a difficult group and Roma will be our biggest rival.

“Moreover, we start and finish the group stages on the road.”

Luis Enrique also expects a tough match against Malaga, who held Sevilla to a goalless draw in their league opener.

“It’s going to be a difficult match,” he said on Friday. “It’s an attractive challenge for us.

“Last year we weren’t able to beat them and tomorrow we expect a big test.”

Barcelona are still without defender Gerard Pique, who will serve his second part of a four-match ban.

Lionel Messi will lead Barcelona’s attack alongside Luis Suarez and, should he start, Neymar.

Messi was voted as Europe’s best footballer by UEFA for the second time in his career on Thursday. He was a resounding victor ahead of Suarez and the previous year’s winner, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

SEE MORE: Lionel Messi hails Barcelona teammates after being named best player in Europe

Malaga did not concede a goal against Barcelona last season in the Primera Division, drawing at home and winning 1-0 away, but coach Javi Garcia knows his team are in for a challenge at the Nou Camp.

“The past is the past,” he said. “The fact is that we will need to bring out the very best of us to get a positive result.

“We need to go there convinced we can do well.”

Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz, who rejoined Malaga on loan this week after leaving the Andalusian club in January for Mexican side Cruz Azul, could feature on Saturday.

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