BARCELONA

Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano, victims of rotation

Technical decisions and injuries have seen both players, mainstays in the Barcelona side in recent years, play less than last season.

Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano, victims of rotation
Lalo R. Villar

Upon examination of Luis Enrique’s often controversial rotation policy there appear to be two clear losers: Javier Mascherano and Andrés Iniesta.

Greater squad depth and injuries reduce Mascherano and Iniesta's playing time

Both have seen their playing time fall this season. A combination of coaching decisions – Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suárez and André Gomes were brought in this summer to give them a rest once in a while – and injuries have seen them spend more time on the bench or in the stands than they’re used to.

Andrés Iniesta has seen his playing time reduced this season, as has Javier Mascherano (in background)

At this stage last season Mascherano had played more minutes than any other Barcelona player. His total of 835 minutes (540 in the league, 115 in the Champions League and 180 in the Spanish Super Cup) was significantly higher than this season’s tally of 559 minutes (289 in the league, 180 in the Champions League and 90 in the Super Cup). Iniesta has played just 395 minutes so far this season, well short of last season’s 638, though it cannot be forgotten that he was out with injury for a few weeks at the start of the season. 

Pique, a key player for Luis Enrique

One of Luis Enrique’s key players this season has been Gerard Pique. The centre-back has played 810 minutes this season, more than last season (450) when he began the season with a suspension for insulting a linesman during the Super Cup. On the whole, however, the decision to bring in greater squad depth has led to fewer minutes for some of the team’s biggest stars. Luis Suárez has also played slightly less than last season (782 minutes to 810).

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