Barcelona have been hit with more problems after losing key duo Ansu Fati and Pedri to injury during the Catalan giants’ Copa del Rey last 16 clash against Athletic at San Mames.
Fati did not start the game but arrived on the hour mark, replacing striker Ferran Jutgla. However, Fati could not finish the game and was forced off in extra-time after picking up a knock.
Fati’s disappointment was evident as he walked straight off the pitch and down the tunnel at San Mames. Barcelona coach Xavi opted to replace the teenager with Sergino Dest.
It’s been a tough season once again for Fati who made his long-awaited comeback from knee surgery in September but has recently been sidelined for two months with a hamstring problem.
The youngster was promptly followed by Pedri who asked to be replaced after picking up an injury. The midfielder is also only just back from a lengthy lay-off and has made just six appearances in all competitions this season.
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Pedri on Target for Barcelona
Pedri did depart after scoring his first goal of the season for Barcelona. The Spain international struck late on at San Mames to make it 2-2 and force the game into extra-time.
Barcelona had challenged Pedri to get in amongst the goals on his return to the team, as reported by Mundo Deportivo. Xavi and his staff feel the midfielder ought to be offering more goals as a key player for the team.
Indeed Pedri’s been set the challenge of beating his tally from last season. The 18-year-old netted four times in his debut season with the Catalan giants and now just needs four more to beat that tally.
Ferran Torres Opens His Account
Barcelona new signing Ferran Torres was also on target for the visitors with his first goal since signing from Premier League champions Manchester City. The Spain international made it 1-1 with a superb curling effort.
Barcelona also showed how impressive the build-up to Torres’s strike was and how it involved 22 passes and nine different players.
The goal came on what was just Torres’s second appearance for the Catalans and should help the 21-year-old settle. The forward’s debut for Barca was delayed by injury and Covid but he will be expected to feature regularly from now on.
Yet the goals were not enough for Barcelona to progress to the quarter-finals. Athletic captain Iker Munian struck the winner in extra-time from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 to the hosts after Jordi Alba had been penalized for handball after a VAR check.
The defeat means Barcelona’s defense of their Copa del Rey trophy is over and their only realistic chance of silverware this season is in the Europa League. The Catalans are 17 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga but face Serie A side Napoli for a place in the last 16 of the Europa League.