When the Barcelona assistant coach, Jon Aspiazu, explained why Andrés Iniesta did not play from the start against Deportivo on Sunday evening, he spoke about the player experiencing ‘discomfort’. That was a euphemism for a more serious injury that the midfielder suffered after the Copa del Rey final victory over Sevilla. Iniesta was substituted in the second half, exhausted, and with a calf strain.
Iniesta's persistent calf problem
That calf has plagued Iniesta throughout the season. It caused him to miss several matches in December and is now, with the World Cup under two months away, it is problematic once again. While it was a hamstring injury that almost caused Iniesta to miss the Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea, the calf issue is a persistent one.
Iniesta admitted that one of the reasons behind his decision to leave Barcelona this summer is a desire to always give one hundred percent for the club, and an acknowledgement that he may not be able to do so in the future, both mentally and physically. This was a tacit reference to his troublesome calf. Given that he has suffered problems with that muscle in both legs, it was evident that the situation will not improve in the medium or long term.
World Cup is Iniesta's priority
The 33-year-old’s immediate concern is to reach full fitness in time for the World Cup, which begins on June 14th. Iniesta will only play in Barcelona’s remaining LaLiga matches if necessary, and for that reason he is not guaranteed of a starting berth for el Clásico on Sunday. Both the club and the player are acutely aware that muscle strains can be a precursor to a full tear if they are not treated appropriately.