Alexia Putellas, reigning Best FIFA Women’s Player, Ballon d’Or Feminin and Barcelona captain, is still waiting to make her long-awaited return to the pitch after a nine-month absence due to the ACL injury she suffered on the eve of Euro 2022 last summer.
Set to return to action soon, her comeback against Chelsea in the second leg of the Women’s Champions League semi-finals at Camp Nou on Thursday is still unlikely. But the club is yet to make a final decision on her potential involvement.
Putellas was not named in the squad for the first leg, which saw Barcelona register a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in front of 25,000 fans in west London. However, she still travelled with the team as part of her ongoing recovery process and took a seat in the dugout.
The second leg at Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, could yet be played in front of another huge crowd, with around 50,000 tickets sold so far.
“That all the players are here is good news. It gives us a plus on a mental level,” head coach Jonatan Giraldez had said ahead of the first leg.
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“It’s not the time to talk about whether I’m optimistic or not, she has to come back in the best possible way. We’ll see how we get to the decisive match at Camp Nou.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on Alexia. We’ll see, we’ll see how she is in training during the week and the decision will be made nearer the second leg.”
Whether her return to fitness means she will play in the 2023 Women’s World Cup this coming summer still remains to be seen. Putellas backed Spain’s player protest against the conditions of the national team setup, including head coach Jorge Vilda, but was not actually one of the 15 individuals who emailed the Spanish federation (RFEF) due to being injured at the time.
Irene Paredes and Jenni Hermoso, two other veterans who supported the protest but didn’t actually join it by sending the email in question last September, have since been recalled.