Ousmane Dembélé returns for Barcelona vs Real Betis: how many games did he miss?
Barça have pulled away from Real Madrid in the Frenchman’s absence but have been a much more dangerous team with him in the side.
Barcelona have announced their matchday squad for Saturday’s LaLiga clash against Real Betis and the name of one man stands out like a sore thumb: Ousmane Dembélé. For weeks now, it feels as if we have been wondering whether the Frenchman would be fit to play in each passing fixture, his return from a thigh injury being pushed further and further back, seemingly on a weekly basis.
He will, however, finally make his long-awaited comeback against Betis, with the Barça medical team easing him back into the fold due to his injury history and explosive style of play. With Xavi Hernández’s side 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Dembélé start on the bench at Camp Nou this weekend.
When did Dembélé last play for Barcelona?
The winger’s last appearance came on 28 January away to Girona, a game in which he was forced off in the first half. Barcelona won 1-0 to go six points clear of Los Blancos, who slipped up a day later by drawing at home to Real Sociedad. In Dembélé's absence, the Catalans have extended their lead to the extent that they had LaLiga all but wrapped up by mid-March, although they have done so by grinding out wins and taking advantage of Madrid’s drop-off in form rather than by blowing the rest of the league away.
Indeed, Barça have won only one of last five fixtures in all competitions and scored just two goals in those matches. Dembélé's return should add extra spark in attack and, they will hope, get star striker Robert Lewandowski back firing. The Pole netted 13 goals in his first 12 LaLiga games but only five in 12 since the France international’s injury.
Barça’s record with and without Dembélé
Dembélé, who has scored eight goals and assisted seven in 28 appearances this season, has missed a total of 17 matches, of which Barcelona have won 10, drawn three and lost four. In the 18 LaLiga games that he has played, La Blaurgrana posted 15 victories, two draws and just one defeat. The ex-Dortmund attacker didn’t feature in the Europe League exit to Manchester United or the Copa del Rey semi-final loss to Real Madrid.
Christensen also returns to face Betis
Central defender Andreas Christensen also returns to the Barça squad after suffering an injury on international duty with Denmark towards the end of March. The former Chelsea man’s last appearance came in the 2-1 Clásico win over Madrid, which all but secured Xavi’s side the league title.