Lionel Messi’s training with Barcelona during the week has gone well, and he’s included in Frank Rijkaard’s squad for Sunday’s Spanish First Division match against Racing de Santander. In perhaps the only Argentine-player-related story that could have eclipsed that one, the Torneo de Verano will see a big moment for Boca Juniors later on Saturday: the third coming of Juan Román Riquelme has arrived.
Things are beginning to look a little brighter for Barça after a gloomy end to 2007. Two wins on the trot in La Liga, as well as the elimination, this week, of Sevilla from the Copa del Rey following a 0-0 draw in Camp Nou that sent the hosts through on away goals, have helped put a smile back on the collective face of the side. Samuel Eto’o now leaves for the African Cup of Nations in Ghana, but to temper that there’s the wonderful news that Messi is fully fit again following a month out injured. Messi’s unlikely to start, but will almost certainly play some part on Sunday.
Riquelme, meanwhile, is set to make his third debut for Boca tonight, following his original time at the club and his loan spell last year from Villarreal. Now once more a fully-fledged Boca player, Román will be in the starting lineup for the Torneo de Verano clash against San Lorenzo, in Mar del Plata. Nine of the eleven who started against Independiente will be on show again tonight, but Riquelme’s the big draw, of course. Both sides, having lost their opening matches (San Lorenzo against Racing) will be trying to put those memories behind them, and Ramón Díaz will also be giving a player his San Lorenzo debut – Diego Placente will also start.