Report: Barcelona 'Confident' Ousmane Dembele Will Be Fit for Manchester United

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 13: Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais at Nou Camp on March 13, 2019 in Barcelona, . (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Barcelona are reportedly "confident" Ousmane Dembele will return from injury in time to face Manchester United in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at Old Trafford on April 10. 

According to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Metro), manager Ernesto Valverde may test Dembele's fitness in Barca's home clash with Atletico Madrid on April 6 to establish how big a role he can play against United.

The French winger picked up a hamstring injury against Rayo Vallecano in their 3-1 win on March 9 but was rushed back to make a substitute appearance in the 5-1 Champions League victory over Lyon at the Camp Nou four days later.

Dembele made a crucial impact, as Barca were only 2-1 ahead on the night and on aggregate when he came on.

But he aggravated the hamstring issue. Per Metro, Valverde admitted after the match it was a "risk" to play the 21-year-old and that "if it wasn't for the scoreline, I wouldn’t have put him on."

It paid dividends in the short term, and if Dembele can return for the first leg against United, Valverde will have been justified in his decision. 

It is not great news for United, though, who are underdogs to advance from the last-eight tie:

Manchester United @ManUtd

Ole on facing Barcelona in the #UCL: "It's a tough one — it's a mountain to climb — but we've climbed a few mountains before." #MUFC

The Red Devils' best chance of causing a shock against Barca will be to earn a victory in the first leg at Old Trafford and ideally prevent the Blaugrana from scoring.

That is easier said than done with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the Barca side—and even harder when Dembele is fit.

In La Liga and the Champions League this term, the former Borussia Dortmund man has combined to score 11 goals and provide five assists.

He also has a knack for coming up with goals at the most crucial moments (U.S. Only):

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Ousmane Dembele's important goals for Barcelona this season: - 78th-minute winner vs Sevilla (Super Cup) - 57th-minute winner vs Valladolid (LL) - 66th-minute winner vs Sociedad (LL) - 87th-minute equaliser vs Vallecano (LL) - 90th-minute equaliser vs Atleti (LL) https://t.co/GMuwfOTPfy

Dembele has established himself as part of Barca's best starting XI this term, and despite United's improvement under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they would benefit if he were not fit for the first leg.

However, even though Barca have a superior squad to United, they cannot afford to be complacent against Solskjaer's side.

United managed to recover from a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg to get past Paris Saint-Germain in extraordinary fashion in the last 16:

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

It was a historic night in Paris for Manchester United as the Red Devils completed a stunning comeback against PSG to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals 😮 https://t.co/WiweRaBPkx

And Solskjaer seems to have reinstated the never-say-die attitude that defined United under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.