Barcelona's marquee summer recruit, Luis Suarez, is set to pull on the Catalan club's famous jersey on Thursday in a friendly against the club's B team.
It will be a fine opportunity for the £65 million striker to gain some match fitness, as he is still suspended from competitive play after biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil.
His original four-month suspension banned him from "all football-related activity," per BBC Sport, which would have condemned him to a horrendous lack of match fitness when he finally returned in October.
However, on appeal, the length of ban was maintained, but sanctions softened by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, per Gregg Bakowski in the Guardian:
"The four-month suspension will apply to official matches only and no longer to other football-related activities (such as training, promotional activities and administrative matters)."
Thus, Suarez can now train with the team and take part in Thursday's game, which will include those Barca players not called up for international duty.
He will be aiming to make his competitive debut in, of all matches, the first El Clasico of the season against Real Madrid—a match scheduled for Oct. 26, the day after Suarez's ban ends—per Kieran Gill in the Daily Mail.
As reported by CNN's James Masters, Suarez is eager to be ready for that fixture, which would be some occasion on which to make his debut:
James Masters @Masters_JamesD
Suarez: "My job is to train and be ready to return by the end of October. All I can do is prepare and be ready for the Real game." #fcb8/19/2014, 2:31:04 PM
While Atletico Madrid pipped both Barca and Real to the La Liga title last season, Spain's two biggest clubs look set to be fighting it out to be top of the pile once again this season after both making significant summer additions.
Suarez's inclusion for the match at the Bernabeu would be a huge boost for Barcelona, hence the importance of Thursday's friendly game.
However, Barca boss Luis Enrique faces an issue in working out how to play his three main men—Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi—together while the Uruguayan is banned from playing competitively, per La Liga writer Andy West:
Andy West @andywest01
Enrique's job in finding team structure to get best out of Messi, Neymar & Suarez not helped by fact that one is injured & another banned,8/24/2014, 6:29:24 PM
While they are undoubtedly three of the world's best players, it will take some time for them to jell.
Suarez gaining match fitness will allow that process to advance much quicker, and Thursday's game will be key to the trio's potency come the end of October and the Real Madrid clash.
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