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Xavi confirms massive Barcelona fitness boost ahead of Man Utd second leg

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Barcelona manager Xavi has confirmed that midfielder Sergio Busquets will be fit enough to face Manchester United in the second leg of their Europa League knockout play-off tie on Thursday.


The La Liga leaders have been struggling with midfield injuries recently, with Busquets picking up an ankle injury which kept him out of the first leg against United – in which Pedri picked up a muscular problem of his own.

Busquets was back on the bench for Sunday’s 2-0 win over Cadiz but didn’t play, although Xavi has assured fans that decision was calculated with a view to returning at Old Trafford on Thursday.

“Today, he was ready to play,” Xavi said after the game. “It’s good for Manchester.”

Xavi also took the opportunity to relax any concerns over the fitness of both Frenkie de Jong and Robert Lewandowki, who were both substituted in the second half against Cadiz to keep them fresh for the European tie.

“Frenkie and Robert have had a lot of minutes,” the Barcelona boss explained. “The other day, we lost Pedri. We can’t lose any more players.

“Preparations for Thursday’s game start [on Monday]. Let’s see how tired they are.”

With a tired squad and plenty of rotation, Xavi’s primary focus was escaping the Cadiz game with three points and no further injury problems. While he wasn’t particularly impressed with his side’s performance, he accepted the impact of the bigger picture.

“In the second half, we lowered our intensity and pace, but that’s normal,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of games, we’re tired, and we still won 2-0.

“I’m happy with the dynamics of the game. We kept a clean sheet. We’re still eight points ahead.

“We were lucky not to concede. Cadiz deserved to score. Marc [Andre ter Stegen] was extraordinary. We’ve not won anything yet. We’re in a very good position, but there is a lot left to do.”