Confirmed: Another Barcelona star set to miss El Clásico
Luis Enrique has a new headache to deal with!
What’s the story?
Barcelona have confirmed that Javier Mascherano has suffered a calf injury and is set to be sidelined for some time. He completed 90 minutes in the Catalan side's 3-0 loss at Juventus despite picking up the injury mid-way.
Though the Spanish giants have said that "his recovery will determine when he will be available once again,” it is being reported that the Argentine will be out for 3-4 weeks. This means that the defender will be missing matches against Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Juventus.
In case you didn’t know...
Barcelona have three crucial matches coming up in the next 12 days where they face Real Sociedad, Juventus and Real Madrid. The two La Liga fixtures will determine their domestic fortunes while their second leg against the Italian side will decide their Champions League fate this season.
The Argentine has played 34 matches this season, starting in 32 of those games. He predominantly plays as a centre-back but played as a right full-back during their 2-0 loss at Malaga.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona are already without Neymar for the El Clasico, and now Mascherano is also set to be on the sidelines for that match. The Catalan side is scheduled to have a tough time with 2 of their key players out of the El Clasico.
The Blaugrana need to win their match against Real Madrid at any cost to have any chance of winning the league. They are already three points behind the Madrid side despite playing a game more than the league leaders. They had a glorious chance to be level on points after the Madrid derby ended 1-1, but Malaga surprised Messi and co to hand them a shock 2-0 loss.
With Mascherano injured, Luis Enrique is set to turn to Samuel Umtiti to partner Gerard Pique in the heart of the defence. The Frenchman has played 32 matches for the Catalan side this season, and they have lost just four times when he has started.
Enrique has opted for the Pique-Umtiti combo before but has resulted in two of the most humiliating defeats of the season – 4-0 at Paris Saint-German and 3-0 at Juventus earlier this week. However, if Enrique was to use him as a midfielder like he did against Juventus, it is not going to be a huge loss as Sergio Busquets will be back for them.
Mascherano's injury might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Blaugrana as Umtiti has been in top form every single time he has stepped on the pitch for them this season. If Pique also gets himself together, there will be no stopping Barcelona from making another epic second leg comeback in the Champions League and also in putting up a solid performance in the El Clasico.