Barcelona confirmed on Sunday that Brazil international Philippe Coutinho is set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury in their 3-1 La Liga defeat to Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.
The Catalan giants announced the news in a statement on their official website but stopped short of outlining how long Coutinho will out for and when he’s expected to return.
Tests on Sunday morning have revealed that Philippe Coutinho has a left biceps femoris (hamstring) injury. Exactly how long that means he will be out of action depends on how the injury evolves
Coutinho started Saturday’s Clásico and played the full ninety minutes, and has appeared in a total of six competitive games thus far this season (five in LaLiga and one in the Champions League), scoring one goal in each competition.
The news is a further blow to Ronald Koeman’s side after Saturday’s disappointing defeat to their local rivals. Coutinho had started the season well since returning from a season on loan with Bayern Munich, contributing two goals and two assists in six appearances in all competitions.
Barca will now have to cope without Coutinho for some crunch fixtures including Wednesday’s trip to Serie A champions Juventus for their second Champions League group stage match of 2020-21. Defender Gerard Pique will also miss the trip to Turin as he is suspended for the game.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
How Will Barca Replace Coutinho?
Koeman is blessed with plenty of options to replace Coutinho while he recovers from his injury. Young midfielders Pedri and Riqui Puig are potential options to come into the starting XI.
The Barca coach could also shuffle his team selection and shift Lionel Messi into Coutinho’s No. 10 position. Koeman could then look to bring in Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele or new signing Francisco Trincao to boost his attack.
Griezmann was left out of the starting XI for El Clasico after a disappointing start to the season and only appeared as a late substitute. Teenager Pedri started the game at the Camp Nou and seems to have gained Koeman’s trust following his summer move from Las Palmas.
Coutinho Injury Comes at a Bad Time
Yet Coutinho’s injury comes at a bad time for Barca. Saturday’s defeat means the team has lost two of their first five La Liga fixtures and are already six points behind table-toppers Real Madrid although they do have a game in hand.
Koeman came in for criticism after suffering defeat in his first Clasico, particularly for his decision not to bring on any substitutes until the 81st minute. The Dutchman will now be under pressure to get his team back to winning ways on Wednesday in Turin.
Yet the Barcelona boss appeared relaxed after the match when he spoke about the result, as reported by Sport.
We played a good game, we created opportunities, but the penalty decision has a direct influence. I am not worried or afraid despite these last two defeats, we have to continue working like this, I have no doubts about the quality of the players.
Barca face a tough test away at Juve. The Serie A champions are unbeaten so far this season and won their opening Champions League encounter 2-0 away at Dynamo Kiev.