Barcelona have been hit with a fresh injury blow ahead of next week’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain in France. Center-back Gerard Pique suffered a fresh knee problem in Wednesday’s 3-0 Copa del Rey win over Sevilla and has been ruled out of action.
The Catalan giants have not specified when Pique will return, but the center-back is expected to miss Saturday’s La Liga clash against Osasuna and Wednesday’s trip to the Parc des Princes.
Pique has only just returned from a serious knee problem that kept him sidelined for three months. The center-back has featured regularly since coming back and scored the crucial equalizer in stoppage time on Wednesday as Barca came back from 2-0 down to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate and qualify for the final.
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Concerns Over Dembele & Araujo
Pique’s injury comes at a bad time with Ronald Araujo also still not back in full training after injuring his ankle on his return to action in Saturday’s win over Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
Coach Ronald Koeman did not include in the Uruguayan in the squad for the Copa del Rey tie and admitted in his pre-match press conference the youngster still had some “nagging injuries.”
Barca will be hoping Araujo can return in time for the trip to PSG and replace Pique. The 21-year-old is Barca’s quickest center-back and will be needed to cope with the pace of Kylian Mbappe. Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and Oscar Mingueza are Barca’s other center-back options.
The Catalan giants also have injury concerns over Ousmane Dembele, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Fernando Polo. The Frenchman scored in the win over Sevilla but was taken off after noticing a problem in his left calf.
Barcelona to Face Neymar?
PSG will also be without key players with Moise Kean, who scored in the first leg, expected to miss out after testing positive for Covid-19.
Neymar, who missed the first leg through injury, is also a doubt but has returned to training this week. Coach Mauricio Pochettino offered an update on the Brazilian, as reported by AS.
Tomorrow, we will evaluate the players and the fact that we can recover a few players, that would be a good thing for the match on Saturday. Neymar’s progression is favourable. In the coming days, we will assess to see if he can be ready.
The French champions are hot favorites to progress to the quarter-finals after winning the first leg 4-1 at the Camp Nou, meaning Barca needed to produce another memorable comeback to keep their Champions League dreams alive.
Wednesday’s win over Copa del Rey will give Barca some belief, although Koeman admitted after the game at a news conference, “it’s easier to come back from 2-0 than to come back from 1-4.”