Madrid (Spain), Sep 30 (IANS) Injuries have affected the plans of FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez ahead of his side’s visit to play Mallorca on Saturday.
The international break saw Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Memphis Depay and Frenkie De Jong all pick up injuries (long-term ones in the case of Araujo and Depay), while Kounde and De Jong are unlikely to be fit for Saturday.
To make matters worse for Xavi, right back Hector Bellerin suffered a calf injury in training and is also out of action for between two to three weeks.
That means Sergi Roberto is almost certain to start on the right of the Barcelona defense, although the fact he is recovering from injury means Eric Garcia could be asked to move across from central defense, with Gerard Pique partnering Andreas Christensen at the heart of the back line.
Sergio Busquets, Gavi and Pedri look likely to play in midfield, with Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha in attack, although the fact Barca have a vital Champions League visit to play Inter Milan next week could alter Xavi’s plans, and there is a chance that Ansu Fati could start as he completes his long road back to full fitness, reports Xinhua.
Franck Kessie could also have his chances in the middle of the park as the coach looks to shuffle his squad.
“The injuries are frustrating, but we have to look ahead. It’s unfortunate because we were doing well, so this is the moment to show that we have a great squad,” said Xavi in his pre-game press conference.
The Barcelona coach said he didn’t want to blame anyone for the injuries and pointed out that “Bellerin got injured while with us” before saying he expected a “difficult game” against a rival that is “defensively very strong.”
Mallorca have become a tough and disciplined side under the experienced Javier Aguirre and in striker Vedat Muriqi they have a player who will cause the Barca defense plenty of problems on high balls.
Barca are not a tall side (especially without Araujo) and Muriqi will look to ‘bully’ Garcia at set pieces, which look to be his side’s best chance of scoring.