Barcelona’s injury problems are mounting ahead of Saturday’s crunch La Liga clash with Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
The Catalan giants confirmed on Wednesday that Sergio Busquets is out of the game with a knee problem picked up on international duty with Spain.
First team player Sergio Busquets has been visited by the club’s medical aervices team this morning and the diagnosis of a sprain of the external lateral ligament of his left knee has been confirmed. The player will therefore not play this weekend, and the evolution of the injury will condition his availability.
Barcelona will also be without center-back Ronald Araujo for the trip to the Spanish capital. The Uruguay international has not recovered fully from a hamstring injury picked up in Barca’s Champions League win over Juventus in October and will not be part of the travelling squad, according to Javier Miguel at AS.
There is still no exact date for when Araujo could return. The defender, along with fellow center-back Samuel Umtiti, is still not back in full training, leaving manager Ronald Koeman short of defensive cover.
Barca will also have to cope without teenage striker Ansu Fati for the clash. The 18-year-old has been ruled out for four months after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee.
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Barca Defense to Feature Against Atletico
The Dutch coach will be able to select first-choice center-backs Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet to face Atletico. Yet if either player were to pick up an injury before the game it would leave Koeman with a real headache as to who to play in defense.
Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has played at center-back this season but will be needed further forward with Busquets out. Miralem Pjanic should partner the Dutchman in midfield.
Meanwhile, Jordi Alba should feature on the left of the defense with either Sergi Roberto or Sergino Dest occupying the right-back slot. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will continue in goal after returning from injury.
The Barca defense should face a tough test from Atletico, although they look unlikely to come up against former team-mate Luis Suarez after he tested positive for Covid-19. However, they will be wary of Atletico’s in-form Joao Felix who has six goals in his last four appearances for Diegon Simeone’s side.
Coutinho to Make Return?
Barca may have to cope without Busquets, Araujo, and Fati but should be able to welcome back Philippe Coutinho from injury. The Brazilian has been out since El Clasico but is back in training and looking in good shape.
Coutinho has stepped up his recovery and “will be ready” for the trip to Madrid on Saturday provided he does not suffer any setbacks in training this week, according to Sport.
The 28-year-old started the season well, with two goals and two assists in his first five games, but is by no means guaranteed a start at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
New signing Pedri has come into the team and impressed for Barcelona, scoring his first La Liga goal for the club last time out against Real Betis. The 17-year-old could well keep his place in the starting XI for Saturday’s match.
Barca head into the match already six points behind Atletico. Another defeat for the Catalan giants would leave them a long way behind the Rojiblancos and put real pressure on Koeman and his men after just eight games of the season.