A common evil called FIFA Virus threatens to infect the particular virtuous circle of Barcelona. The effect of President Laporta’s levers depends on the results of a team currently weakened by the injuries of several internationals who have participated in the last two rounds of the League of Nations. Barça faces a moment of maximum demand without Araujo, Koundé, Memphis, Frenkie de Jong and Bellerín, who was annoyed in training, just when Sergi Roberto has not yet been discharged due to his Achilles tendon problems.
Xavi’s team needs to win games and titles to pay the mortgages of a club trapped by a million-dollar debt and an unsustainable wage bill even after Messi’s departure. The wheel of fortune turns based on a capricious ball that has been well played by Barça lately. With the exception of the opening match against Rayo (0-0), the Catalans have started the season very well, even after losing to ruthless Bayern (2-0). The results confirm that Barça has a good team and a better squad; Now he has to show that he knows how to overcome injuries in the League and the Champions League.
Araujo was operated on yesterday in Finland by Dr. Lasse Lempainen for an avulsion of the adductor longus tendon of the right thigh that occurred 40 seconds into the Uruguay-Iran match in Vienna. Although the part does not report the time off, it is estimated that the center-back may be three months without playing and therefore the World Cup that begins on November 24 for Uruguay would be lost. The Uruguayan federation, in any case, maintains the hope that the footballer can be in Qatar. Koundé, for his part, will take about four weeks to return to the field after injuring the biceps femoris in his left leg in the France-Austria match in Paris.
The two have been capital pieces of Xavi’s team. Both can play central and at the same time right back, a position that they have already occupied in the most demanding games -especially the French- after Barça could not sign Azpilicueta. The alternative was Bellerín until the player has also become part of the casualty list due to an injury to the soleus of his left leg that will separate him from the squad for a month despite the fact that it is not specified in the Barça medical statement either. The defensive hole on the right wing is huge if you take into account that Sergi Roberto is not ready either.
No side in Mallorca
Although his Achilles heel does not stop bothering him, Sergi Roberto hopes to be recovered for Saturday’s game in Mallorca. There is no other alternative in case he does not recover than to resort to Álvaro Núñez from the reserve team, move to a left-hander on the right side or defend with three central defenders, an option already used by Xavi. The bet on Eric García as 2 did not work last season in Villareal. The profile of the rivals complicates the options of the Barça coach. The calendar until November 1 is intimidating: Mallorca, Inter, Celta, Inter, Real Madrid, Villarreal, Athletic, Bayern, Valencia, Viktoria Plzen.
Araujo and Koundé will not be able to play the double date against Inter, on October 4 and 12, decisive for qualification in the Champions League group stage. The club’s budget foresees that the team will qualify until the quarterfinals of the European tournament in a game usually valued at 20 million – last season they did not reach the round of 16 and ended up playing the Europa League in which they were eliminated by the champion Eintracht of Frankfurt. On the contrary, Koundé aspires to arrive in time to play on the 16th at the Bernabéu in a classic in which it was supposed to be Araujo who would mark Vinicius.
Memphis suffers from the same ailment as Koundé. The Dutch international was injured in the match played in Poland. Despite not being a starter, he currently acts as the fourth striker, behind Lewandowski, Raphinha and Dembélé and ahead of Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres. Xavi will also try to recover Memphis for Barça-Madrid. Less painful is Frenkie de Jong’s injury after also participating in the match against Lewandowski’s team. He has an elongation in the semitendinosus of his left leg and his recovery is expected to be able to face Inter.
The return of Dr. Pruna
Dembélé, a footballer who has recovered physically and who plays with confidence since Xavi’s arrival, is also in pain. The coach expressly requested the return of Dr. Ricard Pruna to sit on the bench at the Camp Nou. The doctor had left the Barça club in September 2020 after almost 25 years and went on to practice in the Shariah of the United Arab Emirates. “I want loyal and trustworthy people, and Ricard is the best doctor that Barça has had in the first team”, argued Xavi, frightened by the injuries at the Camp Nou.
Pruna works with Xavi Vallés and a team of physiotherapists who have improved the set-up and recovery of the squad until the arrival of the FIFA virus. The injuries had been minimal and the efforts have focused above all on recovering Ansu Fati, who declined to go through the operating room for his muscle injury after having undergone surgery four times on the internal meniscus of his right knee due to the injury suffered in November 2020. Now the interest is in the defenders and especially in Koundé. Xavi only has three central defenders at the moment: Piqué, Christensen and Eric García and the option of Marcos Alonso.
Christensen and Eric García have already been part of some line-ups, especially before the arrival of Koundé, while Piqué has only played one league game in Cádiz and the second part of the Champions League match against Viktoria Pzlen. The panorama of the infirmary supports the possibility that with a game every three days in October, Piqué will have more options to meet his challenge of regaining the condition of starting with Xavi. The center-back, who resigned from the national team in 2018, does not want to be, at 35 years old and with a contract until 2024, a burden but one more lever in Laporta’s virtuous circle.