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La Liga: With 16 players at World Cup, cupboard bare for Barca coach Xavi

Madrid (Spain), Nov 12 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is going to have to use his imagination to carry out training sessions during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

A club record 16 Barcelona players have been called up by their respective countries for the World Cup, three more than the 13 who went to Russia in 2018.

That leaves Xavi with just seven first-team regulars in Barcelona, bearing in mind that Gerard Pique has also announced his retirement from the game.

Those players have been given holidays until December 5, but of the seven Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie are injured, meaning that in theory, Xavi will have to work with reserve goalkeeper, Inaki Pena, defenders Hector Bellerin, Marcos Alonso and Alejandro Balde, while youngster Pablo Torre plays games with Barca’s B-team.

That’s not even enough to organise a game of three-a-side, and Xavi will have to use some B-team players to make up the numbers, reports Xinhua.

Barca’s first game after the World Cup is a La Liga visit to local rivals Espanyol on December 31, but with rules stating that players are allowed 10 days’ holiday after completing a major tournament, Xavi could secretly be hoping that for at least some of his squad, the World Cup adventure doesn’t last too long.

Real Madrid also has a lot of players at the World Cup, but with Toni Kroos, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy, Nacho Fernandez, Lucas Vazquez, Dani Ceballos and Alvaro Odriozola all missing out, coach Carlo Ancelotti does at least have the basis of a decent five-a-side team.

–IANS

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