Barcelona will look to hand Tata Martino the perfect birthday present when they take on Granada at the Nou Camp this afternoon, in a game live streaming with Bet365 (KO 15:00 GMT).
Martino turned 51 on Wednesday and he hopes to celebrate in the best possible fashion by securing his 40th point from a possible 42 against La Liga 8th place side.
The Argentine coach will include Neymar and Alexis Sanchez in his line up despite their pair only returning to training on Thursday following the midweek internationals.
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However Dani Alves won’t take part after he suffered a slight tear of the right leg soleus muscle and faces 7-10 days on the sidelines.
Alves will be joined in the stands by Víctor Valdés, Jordi Alba, Gerard Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas and Leo Messi while Xavi Hernández and Cristian Tello are both doubts for Saturday after training away from the main group.
Despite being without a number of key men, defender Javier Mascherano believes he and his team-mates will be able to cope, telling the club’s official website “Unfortunately, we’ve had some injuries but that’s why you have a big squad. Everyone in the first team is ready to play. You notice the absences but that’s what we’re here for”.
The former Liverpool star also spoke of his belief that Jose Pinto will be able to step into the breach following the injury to Valdes.
The 38 year old, who has made only 21 appearances for the club since joining the club in 2008, is set for an extended spell in the side following the calf injury sustained by Valdes on international duty.
Despite his lack of competitive action, Mascherano has every faith in the former Celta Vigo star, adding “Víctor (Valdés) is very important. Not just for what he represents. He was in excellent form. Now we need to support Pinto, who always responded.
“He’s got a lot of experience and works all year to get his chance. Now he’s got it. I’ve played a lot with Pinto. In my opinion, he’s improved a lot in the last few years with the ball at his feet and he’s had some magnificent performances”.
Granada meanwhile have won 5 and lost 6 of their games so far this season and are currently on 17 points level with Real Sociedad, Valencia, Levante and one ahead of Seville in a tight Europa league chasing group.
Lucas Alcaraz’s side will head into the game in good form after back to back wins over Levante (1-0) and Malaga (3-1).