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Barça go into Betis opener down to bare bones in central defence

Javier Mascherano's injury has left Luis Enrique with few centre-back options as Barcelona prepare to begin their title defence on Saturday
Leganés vs Barcelona

La lesión de Mascherano, un contratiempo.
Fernando Zueras

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has been dealt a defensive injury headache by the hamstring strain picked up by Javier Mascherano in the Spanish Super Cup second leg.

Mascherano to miss Betis clash

Mascherano limped off in the closing stages as Barça saw off Sevilla to seal a 12th Super Cup success on Wednesday, the club later confirming the Argentine would be out for about a week.

With Jérémy Mathieu also sidelined and Marc Bartra and Thomas Vermaelen both having left the Camp Nou over the summer, the Barça boss currently has limited options to choose from at centre-back as he prepares for Saturday's LaLiga opener against Real Betis.

Frenchman Jérémy Mathieu is also out injured.
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Frenchman Jérémy Mathieu is also out injured.

Two fit centre-halves left 

Enrique is left with just two recognised central defenders in Gerard Piqué and new boy Samuel Umtiti, who are set to be Los Azulgranas' backline partnership against Betis.

The Spanish champions had planned to turn to their 'B' team in an emergency, but paperwork issues mean they are unlikely to be able to call up promising Brazilian signing Marlon Santos for this weekend, or the other chief alternative, recent recruit José Antonio Martínez.

Coach would resort to Rakitic or Roberto next 

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday, Enrique indicated he'll be forced to draft in midfielder Ivan Rakitic or utility man Sergi Roberto at the heart of defence if anything happens to Piqué or Umtiti.


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