Abidal's absence is a huge loss for Barcelona
The footballing world entered a collective shock a couple of days back when it was announced that Barcelona’s French international Eric Abidal is set to have a liver tumour surgery on Thursday putting his club and the whole football community under a cloud of uncertainty regarding the 31-year old player’s well being. Barcelona are already feeling the pinch regarding the versatile Abidal’s uncalled for absence as the whole squad look tense at the news of a potentially complicated operation.
Abidal’s team mate Xavi Hernandez’s statement, after Abidal visited the club’s training ground, echoed the general feeling of the entire Barcelona camp. The Spanish international was quoted as saying,
“This is the toughest moment I have experienced in a dressing room. But Abidal will get through it because he is one of the strongest people mentally that I know.”
“He is a paragon of optimism. He told us that life is like that, that we should carry on as normal and that we should beat Getafe on Saturday.”
Even arch rivals Real Madrid displayed a kind gesture in their Champions League encounter against Lyon when the players sported a T-shirt containing words of encouragement for Abidal saying “Animo Abidal”. As the world prays and Barca prepare to stand firmly behind the player at this moment, club President Sandro Rosell has promised to help the player recover from the surgery. Yet, it is on the football pitch that the Catalan giants would miss the defender most at such a crucial moment of the season.
Eric Abidal, capped 52 times by France, is a rare breed of footballer who can cover the whole of defence by making himself comfortable at all positions. His versatility will be missed by Barca fans and Pep Guardiola knows that given the small strength of his squad, it would be hard to replace the former Lille and Lyon star.
The six feet one Abidal, one of the most popular players amongst the Catalan fans, normally plays at left back but has filled in brilliantly in central defence when regulars Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique have been absent. Given the uncertainty over the timing of his absence from the game, this unexpected development could be a huge blow to Barcelona’s chances of repeating the treble winning 2008-2009 season. His absence for any length of time will be felt by the La Liga leaders, who are five points ahead of Real Madrid with 10 games left, given his superb form this season.
Now that Barcelona are into the business end of the season with crunch matches awaiting them in the league against tricky opponents Villareal, Espanyol and most important of all, the Clasico against Real Madrid, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey finals against their arch rivals who are hot on the Catalans’ heels, Abidal’s defensive solidarity will be much missed. The Catalans’ lead at the top, which was once considered unbeatable, is now looking tricky especially with the defensive absences, something which was predicted long back by Sky Sports pundit Jerry Armstrong when people were calling the league well and truly over. It will be interesting to see how Barcelona respond to the shock on the pitch. Meanwhile, let us fans join hands and pray for the legendary player. Animo Abidal!
With inputs from Zico