MADRID: Brazilian star Neymar will make his first appearance of the season when Barcelona travel to face Villarreal on Sunday, but the Catalans will have to do without the injured Andres Iniesta.
Neymar missed Barca’s opening day 3-0 over Elche last weekend due to a sprained ankle, having only just recovered from the broken vertebra in his back which prematurely ended his World Cup.
Iniesta, though, has been sidelined by a knee injury.
“He had a problem in his knee that was getting worse and hasn’t allowed him to play,” said Barca boss Luis Enrique on Saturday.
“Neymar is in the squad because he is ready to play. Winning a place in the team is difficult, but the key for the season is not just to have 11 players, but that we win with everyone.”
The performance of 18-year-old Munir El Haddadi on debut against Elche may mean Nemyar will start only from the bench at El Madrigal.
Munir’s fine week was rounded off by a first call-up to the Spanish under-21 squad on Friday, but Enrique insists he hasn’t made any plans to protect his protigi during his rapid rise to prominence.
“We haven’t done any special work to protect him. He ought to attack everything at the moment calmly. What he is doing at the moment other players will do throughout the course of the season.
“It is great that all the players gain confidence and have minutes on the pitch. Taking decisions is the most important thing for a coach, but you can’t always keep everyone in the team happy.”