There is no doubt that FC Barcelona have an injury crisis on their hands, especially in terms of the defence, Luis Enrique was already having to cope without the Spanish international left back and centre back Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique and the problem got worse this week after the French star Jeremy Matthieu joined them on the sidelines after picking up a foot problem in the Catalonian Super Cup win over Espanyol on Tuesday, as reported by Sky Sports.
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The most successful manager in the history of FC Barcelona will be coming back to his old stomping ground this week, as Pep Guardiola brings his new club Manchester City to the Nou Camp for the first of two back to back group games in the Champions League.
The former boss is under no illusion about the size of the task facing Man City either, as he has described his former club as a machine and even though his new side is packed with talents like David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Pep has said that his players should expect to have less possession of the ball.
Can Barcelona retain their La Liga title?
Finishing just ahead of fierce rivals Real Madrid by one point gave Barcelona their 24th La Liga title, with Luis Enrique continuing his fine start to management at the Nou Camp. A 23-match unbeaten run proved to be crucial as Barca edged in front during a three-horse race at the summit, and although three consecutive defeats opened the door to both Madrid clubs, neither could capitalise as Barcelona regained their composure to win the last five games and be crowned champions for the second year running.
It would have been an almost perfect season for fans of FC Barcelona, with another La Liga trophy and a Copa Del Rey victory to go with it and make it a double success. Of course we would have liked to add the Champions League to make it another treble but let’s not be greedy, after all we did win it last time.
The only thing that spoiled the party for Barca was the fact that Real Madrid managed to beat Atletico Madrid to lift the European Cup and put a gloss on their season that they scarcely deserved. No doubt there will be another fierce fight between the three top Spanish clubs again next year but for now we have to find a way to cope without club football.
It must be difficult being the manager of FC Barcelona. You do not get a lot of credit for winning, even when your players play brilliantly and score a hatful of goals. But one defeat and the club is in crisis, whether the defeat be a narrow or undeserved one or not.
Tata Martino has faced the Spanish press today ahead of the Copa Del Rey semi-final against Real Sociedad and as well as deflecting more questions about the Neymar transfer, he has had to field questions about the so-called crisis of losing to Valencia at the weekend.
Barcelona are reportedly still monitoring Liverpool defender Daniel Agger despite the Denmark international insisting he would be staying with the Premier League club. Despite Tata Martino’s men currently stand-out favourites for this season’s La Liga title, Barcelona are still believed to be determined to sign a defender when the January transfer window opens.
The 28-year old was linked with a move to the Nou Camp during the summer but nothing materialised at the time despite Agger admitting he would have been tempted if Barca had approached him.
With Lionel Messi not expected to return to action for FC Barcelona much before the end of the year, and having struggled with some niggling injuries at the latter part of last season, the chances of the mercurial number 10 winning the FIFA Ballon D’Or for a fifth straight year are looking pretty slim.
Barca’s Injury Woes Intensify
Barcelona have revealed that they could be without Xavi and Cristian Tello as well as Lionel Messi for the game against Granada.
Tests have shown that playmaker, Xavi, has picked up a hamstring muscle strain while winger, Tello, suffered ankle ligament damage in training.
The current La Liga leaders are already without World Player of the Year, Messi, who was ruled out for up to eight weeks after tearing a leg muscle in the recent 4-1 victory at Real Betis.