Barcelona on the edge of ruins as injury list grows big
Barcelona as a club has more than enough problems right now, not least their abysmal financial predicament and worrying form on the pitch.
But Saturday’s poor 1-1 draw with Alaves showcased more than just ineptitude on the pitch but in respect of player welfare.
Sergio Aguero’s worrying heart issue, for which he was required to stay in hospital overnight, was something that, perhaps, the club doctors could not have foreseen. But a number of other injuries on the growing list stemmed from mismanagement of the squad.
Contrary to accepted belief, there are ways to predict and offset injury being utilized among major clubs. Training regimes can be created to decrease risk and ultimately protect players. This is becoming accepted and encouraged.
And yet Barcelona’s squad is among the most injured in Europe at the moment, and after the fire sale of the summer to make ends meet, they are absolutely stretched to their limit.
The Pedri situation has been disgraceful, over-utilizing a young man with the world at his feet who, of course, wants to play every game. It needed a grown-up to step in. Instead, he will have missed nearly two months by the time he comes back in November. ‘Bad luck’, says physio Juanjo Brau. No, bad management.
Leaving all the money issues to one side, for a club like Barcelona to have an ‘innovation hub’ and yet be so bad at literally everything that requires data and analysis is like a twisted joke. Frenkie De Jong spoke at the latest innovation hub conference days after playing with and subsequently limping off because of – a hamstring injury, one that the club was aware of. The only thing innovative about this is how spectacularly stupid it is.
Gerard Pique is injured now, too. Ansu Fati’s long road back from a serious knee injury looks to have been poorly dealt with, considering the Spain international is now out again.
Alongside Fati, Pique, Aguero, and De Jong Ronald Araujo and Sergi Roberto are also out with muscle injuries. Place them alongside the long-term absentees Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite and you’ve got a virtual starting XI sitting out because of various, largely manageable, injury problems.
It just isn’t good enough. For an institution, the size of Barcelona to have to deal with the issues they increasingly prove they just aren’t elite anymore.
An interim coach with no clear alternatives beyond a former player whose only experience is coaching in Qatar, a crumbling stadium, the worst squad in two decades, and little on the horizon to be positive about beyond the necessary promotion of B team prospects Nico and Gavi.
The fact that Brau wants to blame luck for the Pedri situation is a stark reminder that Barcelona don’t know what they are doing or where they are going. They are directionless and lack any kind of vision.
The current injury situation is a gateway into understanding how one of the biggest clubs in the world became so utterly dysfunctional and increasingly irrelevant.