Football News

Why nine Barcelona players turned up for training on their day off ahead of Napoli clash

By Ben Green

Published: 15:21, 23 February 2022

Nine Barcelona players have reportedly taken part in a ‘voluntary’ training session ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Napoli after Xavi gave his players the day off.

Barca are set to meet Napoli in the second leg of their Europa League play-off tie for the knockouts, with the opening fixture finishing 1-1 at the Camp Nou last week after Piotr Zielinski broke the deadlock, before Ferran Torres restored parity with a second-half penalty.

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It is believed Xavi gave his players a day off from training after their thumping 4-1 win over Valencia at the weekend, in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick, with the former midfield maestro cautious to not overwork his charges.

However, reports suggest as many as nine Barcelona players turned up at the club’s training complex, Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, for a ‘voluntary’ session to stay sharp ahead of Thursday’s crucial journey to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

The report claims Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves, Luuk De Jong, Ronald Araujo, Sergi Roberto, Memphis Depay and Clement Lenglet all appeared in Sant Joan Despi for an unscheduled session to keep their legs fresh.

Xavi travels with his squad to Campania welcoming back Gerard Pique, who was suspended for Sunday’s 4-1 win over Los Che, but Alves — who also faced a domestic ban — is unavailable on Thursday as Xavi omitted him from his Europa League squad.

Elsewhere, Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati and Alejandro Balde are long-term absentees, but Roberto will be hoping to return soon having not featured since October with a hamstring issue, though Thursday’s crucial showdown is expected to have come too soon for him.

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