Chapecoense goalkeeper Artur Moraes and his team-mates are braced for an emotion-filled match against Barcelona as plane crash survivor Alan Ruschel makes a remarkable comeback to the field.
Artur and Chapecoense will play LaLiga giants Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on Monday – a tribute to the 71 people who were killed in last year's tragic plane crash.
It has been a time of mourning and rebuilding for Chapecoense since a plane carrying the Brazilian squad, technical commission and a number of journalists for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed en route to Medellin two days before the match was due to take place, killing 71 people on board, in November.
Ruschel was one of three players to survive the crash – along with Neto and Jackson Follman, though the 27-year-old defender is the only one making a return to football.
É AMANHÃ!!! Reestreia do Alan Ruschel pela Chape!Barcelona vs Chapecoense | Camp Nou | Joan Gamper August 6, 2017
"It's a festive game in honour of the victims, and everything that happened last year with Chapecoense," Artur said.
"And the most important is the return of Alan, which is a very special moment because we are following from the beginning his effort to return to play football. So we come with a sense of joy to enjoy and make this a special day for everyone involved in the game.
"It's impossible to forget the people who have left. Every time we enter the field there is this memory, and it also has this responsibility, to be part of the reconstruction of a club and a city. And every time we walk in and wear that shirt we have to remember that this is more than a club, there is a feeling behind."
The 36-year-old goalkeeper added: "For us, since we are everyday with him, and seeing all that he's doing to return... It's a special day for him and for us, because, as co-workers, we will be happy to see someone who celebrates life every day, and tomorrow will return to play football in an official match."
Teve trocas de camisas no treino da Chape na Espanha!Amanhã tem Barcelona vs Chapecoense | Camp Nou | Joan Gamper | 15h30August 6, 2017
Chapecoense's revival has been remarkable in 2017, thanks to the help of loanees.
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.
Chapecoense also made their Copa Libertadores debut – finishing third in the group stage after being deducted points for fielding an ineligible player.
"For us it will be a very exciting match, not only because of Alan will play, but also to play against Barcelona, which is something we don't need to comment, but we came here to enjoy the match and celebrate together with them," said Wellington Paulista.
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