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'Ideal occasion for return' as Chapecoense plane crash survivor set to face Barcelona

Alan Ruschel was one of three players to survive November’s tragic crash.

Chapecoense survivor Alan Ruschel
Chapecoense survivor Alan Ruschel

PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR Alan Ruschel will return to the field for Chapecoense in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona next month.

The Brazilian side were travelling to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional in November, when the plane carrying the squad, club officials and crashed en route to Medellin.

Ruschel was one of three players to survive the crash, along with Neto and Jackson Follman. 71 people died.

The 27-year-old defender is set to make his remarkable comeback in the Joan Gamper Trophy match at Camp Nou on August 7.

A statement from Chapecoense read: “Alan’s return represents an important step in his recuperation as well as for the club’s reconstruction.

“Considering the exceptional relevance, the importance and magnitude of the match against the classic Spanish team – in one of the temples of world football – it was understood that the game is the ideal occasion for a return.”

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Barca and Chapecoense – who sacked head coach Vagner Mancini just seven months into the club’s rebuild – will pay homage to the victims in the 52nd edition of the Joan Gamper Trophy, with the Spanish powerhouse hoping to ‘help Chapecoense rebuild institutionally and recover the competitive level it had before the tragedy’.

With the help of a large number of loanees, Chapecoense have undergone a remarkable revival in 2017.

The Brazilians won the Santa Catarina state championship in May, after edging Avai in a two-legged play-off to retain the title they claimed in 2016, while they also made their Copa Libertadores debut – finishing third in the group stage after being deducted a point for fielding an ineligible player.

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