Ibra Out? Henry To Take Center Stage

Thierry Henry looks set to start in the center-forward role for Barcelona at Malaga on Saturday with Zlatan Ibrahimovic a doubt for the game.

Ibrahimovic has been named in a 19-man squad to face the Andalusians and will travel to Malaga with the rest of his team-mates.

But the Sweden striker, who has scored in each of his first four league games since signing from Inter Milan in the summer, is not fully recovered from an ankle injury he picked up in the 4-1 win at Racing Santander on Tuesday night.

Coach Pep Guardiola usually errs on the side of caution with his injured players and it is thought Ibrahimovic will not start.

And with Bojan Krkic out injured, that means a probable start in the center for Henry.

The former Arsenal forward was in red-hot form last season, scoring 26 goals in all competitions as Barcelona claimed an historic treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League.

But the Frenchman is yet to score this season and has been criticized in the Catalan press for his performances.

It now looks like he will have the perfect opportunity to silence those critics.

Should Henry get the nod in the center, Andres Iniesta is likely to come in on the left-hand side up front for his first start since returning from a thigh injury.

Iniesta missed the whole of Barca’s pre-season campaign, but has appeared as a substitute in the Catalans’ last four matches.

Meanwhile, Gabi Milito is on the comeback trail after over a year on the sidelines, but the Argentina defender is still not ready to return to action.

Barcelona have been in the news for the wrong reasons this week as it emerged that the club had spied on four presidential candidates looking to succeed current supremo Joan Laporta.

But Guardiola says that negative press will not affect his players.

“I don’t know what happened, but I know they will let me get on with my job, which is to prepare the players for the game against Malaga,” he said.

“It won’t affect them, I’ll make sure of that.”

Guardiola refused to reveal whether Ibrahimovic will start against Malaga, but said the Swede was making a good recovery from his injury.

“He has trained well, evolved well and worked well with the group. If he doesn’t play, somebody else will come in – I have confidence in my players,” he said.

Barcelona lead the Primera Division by virtue of having scored one more goal than rivals Real Madrid after four rounds of the championship.

The Catalans have scored 14 and let in three, while Madrid have netted 13 and conceded two.

Malaga, meanwhile, are badly in need of points after losing their last three matches.

The Andalusians began the season in style with an impressive 3-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid. But Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz’s side have gone down in all three games since then and sit just a point clear of the relegation zone.

They face an uphill task to get anything tomorrow but Lopez Muniz insists Barcelona cannot win every week.

“I am sure Barcelona are not going to win all of their 38 league games,” he said. “We have hope.”

Apono, Jordi Pablo and Milan Stepanov all miss out through injury but Valdo returns and is set to start.

(Soccer365.com)


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