What’s the story?
Barcelona are on the verge of a potential injury crisis, ahead of their crucial UEFA Champions League clash against Juventus. Luis Enrique faces a major headache, as he could be without seven players – Arda Turan, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano in addition to long-term absentees Aleix Vidal and Rafinha – all of whom are nursing injury troubles. Some of these five players could also miss El Clasico on the weekend, with Neymar also suspended for the clash against Real Madrid
Juventus comprehensively beat Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg, with the Blaugrana feeling the absence of Sergio Busquets in midfield, as the midfielder was absent through suspension. The Catalan giants still remain positive about their chances, drawing on their incredible 6-1 win over PSG, although a repeat might be difficult given their injury troubles.
The heart of the matter
Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were expected to be fit for the midweek clash against Juventus, but the Spanish duo did not train in Barcelona’s session today ahead of the Juventus game. Spanish news outlet, Mundo Deportivo, claimed that the pair have not recovered in time but noted that Pique could play through the pain as Barcelona lack fit centre-backs apart from Samuel Umtiti.
Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu, the other options at centre-back, also sat out the training session, with the Argentine still in pain from the calf injury he picked up in the first leg. Mathieu’s absence was even more surprising, as the Frenchman was fit enough to be included on the bench against Real Sociedad in Barcelona’s previous game.
Arda Turan was not expected to recover in time for the Juventus second leg anyway after he picked up the injury during the international break. However, the Turkish star’s recovery has been slower than expected, with Turan likely to also miss El Clasico – a blow, as Neymar is suspended for that game.
With El Clasico on the horizon, the injury crisis has come at the worst possible time for Barcelona, especially with the news that Paulo Dybala has recovered in time to play for Juventus. Pique will likely be risked, as while he was not training, he did spend some time in the gym.
The Spanish press does tend to micro-analyze ever training session, although if Barcelona are without such important players at the back, they might as well kiss goodbye any chance of getting past Juventus in the UEFA Champions League.Published 17 Apr 2017, 17:46 IST