Barcelona Have Just One Fit Center-Back Ahead of Napoli UCL Clash

Gerard Pique


Barcelona hit been with a fresh injury blow ahead of their Champions League last-16 second-leg tie with Napoli at the Camp Nou on August 8, leaving them short of defensive options.

Centre-back Ronald Araujo was forced off with injury during Barcelona B’s promotion playoff final defeat to Sabadell on Sunday with what looked like an ankle problem. The Uruguayan was in tears as he walked off the pitch:

The injury will be of real concern to manager Quique Setien given he is already short of options for the game against Napoli. Samuel Umtiti is sidelined with a knee problem, Clement Lenglet is having treatment for a groin injury, leaving Gerard Pique as the only fit senior center-back currently.

Barcelona will also be without experienced midfielders Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal for the game due to suspension, while it’s not clear if Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele will be fit for the tie.

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Setien’s Fears Realised

Setien opted not to release Araujo, Riqui Puig, and Ansu Fati for Barca B’s first promotion playoff game against Valladolid Promesas as the game took place on the same day as Barcelona’s final La Liga match of the season at Alaves.

The Barcelona boss was only able to name a 16-man squad for the trip to Alaves because of injury and suspension and explained his decision to reporters before the game.

“I’d have liked it to be different, but it’s not going to be possible. We have various players suspended for the Champions League and for Sunday. Without them, we’d only have enough to field 11, with barely any substitutes. That’s my position, at least.”

The trio all played in the game against Alaves which Barcelona won 5-0. Araujo was then given permission to join up with Barcelona B for their semi-final against Badajoz, scoring a penalty in a shootout victory. However, Puig and Fati were not given permission and instead have enjoyed a few days off with the rest of the first team.

Setien explained why he was so reluctant to allow his young players to help out the B team in their promotion push.

“They could play with the reserves but we have the Champions League coming up too and we have to be consistent. It’s a decision that the club will take after speaking with everyone. In the game against Napoli, we also have a lot of players missing through suspension and injury and that has to be kept in mind because these kids have a chance of playing.”

Setien’s worst fears have now been realized with Araujo limping off less than two weeks before Napoli arrive at the Camp Nou. The Barcelona boss is now seriously short of defensive options and will be hoping Lenglet and Araujo recover quickly.

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