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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Villa to make comeback against Malaga

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

David Villa returns for Barcelona's Copa del Rey quarter-final trip to Malaga on Thursday evening, with the club's assistant coach Jordi Roura suggesting he will play an important role for the team this season once he gets fully fit.

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Villa, the target of a reported 12 million bid from Arsenal this week and said to be unsettled due to his limited game-time this season, is back in Barca's squad for the game, after a fortnight out with a thigh problem.

The second leg at La Rosaleda is delicately poised, after Malaga's 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou in last week's first leg. The winner will face Real Madrid in the semi-finals, with the first leg next week at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Roura, in charge for the game with boss Tito Vilanova in New York continuing his recovery from December's operation to remove a parotid gland tumour, said Villa had nothing to prove except his fitness.

"We already know everything about David," Roura said. "He has had really bad luck with his injuries. That has interrupted his rhythm. He will know if he starts or not when we take the decision. He has always been an important player for us."

Unlike for previous Copa games this season, Barca have declined to rest any of their stars for the trip to Malaga, so Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta et al are all available if required.

"This is the first decisive match, the first 'match-ball' of the season," Roura said. "We all know how important this game is and the intensity it deserves. The players always want to play and they know how important the right attitude is. I have no doubt they will give everything to go through."

Although Malaga are without key injured duo Isco and Jeremy Toulalan, Roura said Manuel Pellegrini's side would nevertheless pose a stiff test.

"Malaga are not designed to defend," he said. "They will come for us. They are a Champions League team, they have a great squad. If Isco or Toulalan are not playing, others can fill in."

Asked whether his team had shown a lack of concentration by allowing Malaga to equalise late in the first leg, and Real Sociedad to come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in La Liga on Saturday, Roura admitted they should not have let the lead slip in either game.

"When you have a bad result you need to analyse it," he said. "The team played well in the two games where we drew and lost. We did not kill off the games at home and away at Anoeta and both matches became difficult after that. But we are not in bad form."

Roura was less keen to comment on the possible Copa clasico meeting with Madrid in the semi-finals. "I will not say anything about that," he said. "The only team we are playing for now is Malaga."




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