Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has received a massive boost ahead of the trip to Villarreal on Sunday (20 March) after the club confirmed that Rafinha Alcantara is finally ready to return to action after six months on the sidelines. The fantastic news come just hours after the La Liga giants booked a place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-1 victory against Arsenal on aggregate to keep alive their hopes to replicate the treble triumph this campaign.
The Catalans are now in an ideal situation to fight for the three titles, being also at the top of La Liga table, eight points above Atletico Madrid, and having already secured a place in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.
The long-expected return of Rafinha means that the Barcelona manager will have all his first-team players available to face the challenge, with the sole exception of Sandro Ramirez, who last week was ruled out for around two months after he injured himself during a training session.
Rafinha, 23, was expected to have a key role this season as back-up due to his versatility to play both in the midfield and in an attacking role. The Brazilian international eventually started two of the first three La Liga games of the season but saw his breakthrough into the Barcelona first-team hampered after suffering a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right leg during the Champions League draw against Roma in September 2015, following a bad tackle from Radja Nainggolan.
But after having returned to the training sessions last month, Barcelona have now revealed through the club's official website that the Brazilian is back at Luis Enrique's disposal ahead of the trip to La Liga's fourth-placed Villarreal.
Barcelona confirmed: "Rafinha received the medical green light on Thursday (17 March) to provide a boost to the morning training session, following the Champions League win over Arsenal. His return comes as at an ideal point of the campaign with important games ahead."
Following six months on the sidelines, Rafinha probably lacks fitness to start at Villarreal, but Luis Enrique may give him some playing time in the second half of the game to improve his fitness ahead of the final part of the season. Barcelona, after the international break, will host Real Madrid in the second El Clasico of La Liga to be played on 2 April at the Camp Nou.