Barcelona midfielder/living legend Andrés Iniesta suffered a hamstring injury in the Catalans’ 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid for the Spanish League last weekend, and has since then become a doubt for the return leg of the Champions League’s round of 16 to face Chelsea at the Camp Nou. Still, the 33-year-old is working hard to return to proper fitness and in time to get on the pitch versus the English side.
But given how there is only five days ahead of the match-up, chances for said return are slim to say the least, especially for a player of his age. No wonder his manager Ernesto Valverde is not willing to give any guarantees as whether Iniesta will be ready to take the pitch next Wednesday in their Champions League game against the Blues.
#LaLiga | "Iniesta está trabajando aparte y haciendo ejercicios. No puedo adelantar si podrá llegar al duelo ante el Chelsea. Tenemos jugadores para suplirle, cada uno dentro de sus características"#EnDirecto▶️ https://t.co/XXCOJtDGW4 pic.twitter.com/w8Zjq6ahfa— Diario SPORT (@sport) March 9, 2018
“Iniesta is working apart [from the team] and doing exercises. I cannot anticipate if he will be able to play the game against Chelsea. We have players to fill in his shoes, each one of them within his characteristics.”
Even if Barça do have the depth to cover for Iniesta, perhaps only one of them in Philippe Coutinho would be able to play at his level. However the Brazilian is ineligible for their Champions League matches after playing in the competition for Liverpool in the first half of the season, and their level of play will certainly drop without someone of Iniesta’s ability on the pitch.
That said, with or without Iniesta on the pitch, we are certainly in for a cracking game. Wednesday cannot come soon enough!
But first! Crystal Palace.