The waiting is over. The international matches are over and it’s back to La Liga and a game at the Camp Nou. Leaders FC Barcelona, after winning 1-0 in Gijón a fortnight ago, now entertain Racing in a game that marks the return of Andrés Iniesta, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the home fixture against AC Milan. He did not play in Spain’s two games last week, and has instead been completing his recovery at the Ciutat Esportiva. He is back, football is back, and the Barça magic is back.
Iniesta’s return means Josep Guardiola has 18 first team players to choose from. Alexis and Fàbregas are both still out of action, but are due to return very soon, while Afellay will be unavailable for several months. So, there are no surprises in the squad selection, and the only question mark is how much use Guardiola will make of the many internationals that have just had a very tiring week indeed.
Three at home
The Camp Nou has plenty to look forward to in the second half of October. In fact, FC Barcelona now have a run of three games at home (Racing, Viktoria Plzen and Sevilla), which offers them a great chance to consolidate their positions both in Europe and domestically. Three FCB wins would be the perfect antidote to the threat of the ‘FIFA virus’.
Racing struggling up front
Barça’s guests are in the relegation zone and in desperate need of points after just scoring four times in six games, three of those goals coming in their first league match at Mestalla. That makes for just one goal in five games, from the famous draw with Madrid in Santander. Racing did manage a draw at the Camp Nou three years ago, 1-1, and ominously that was also the first game after an international break.