Clásico: Who do Barcelona have available for Real Madrid?
Barcelona's squad is short and injuries at the back leave them close to crisis. We take a look at who is missing and who is available for Setién on Sunday.
Barcelona's squad planning in recent seasons has been criticised from all angles. Carles Perez, who left for Roma in January, recently said he was sent to Italy without explanation after growing up in La Masia and after the game against Napoli on Tuesday night, Sergio Busquets sent a very direct barb towards the directors at the club when he said, 'we know the squad is short but that's the way it has been planned'.
They sent Pérez, Jean-Clair Todibo, Moussa Wagué and Carles Aleñá out on loan in January and were then faced with an injury crisis after Luis Suárez and Ousmané Dembélé were ruled out for several months. They were forced to go through the back door to sign Martin Braithwaite from Leganés as an 'emergency' signing but limp into the Clásico on Sunday. Who's missing, why and where are they vulnerable? Let's take a look.
It's the one area of the field where Barcelona are solid. They have one of the best shot-stoppers in the world in Marc Andre Ter Stegen and behind him is Neto, a reliable if unspectacular back-up. The latter missed time because of sprained ankle in January and February but he has returned and is available for Sunday.
Options Available: Ter Stegen, Neto.
Gerard Piqué limped out of the Napoli game on Tuesday after he turned his ankle late on. He initially didn't want to go off but Lenglet was already coming on as a substitute at that point. Piqué walked out of the mixed zone after the game and reports say he is keen to play in the Clásico. It might be wishful thinking but that's his plan and he seems to be sticking to it.
The central defender had to wait in line for physio treatment because Jordi Alba is already out injured along with Sergi Roberto. Alba has missed significant time this season through injury. On three occasions now, the left-back has been ruled out with hamstring issues and has missed 14 games so far. Sergi Roberto is also absent after suffering a thigh injury and is expected to miss another couple of weeks ruling him out of the Clásico too.
That leaves them very short and with few options to change things or spring a surprise on Barcelona. We know how they will line-up barring a complete overhaul of Setién's tactics.
Players available: Nelson Semedo, Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo and Ronald Araujo.
Players unavailable: Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto
Questionable: Gerard Piqué.
The Champions League is a lot more problematic for Barcelona when it comes to absences after Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal saw cards (yellow and red respectively) that will keep them out of the return game at Camp Nou. Against Real Madrid on Sunday though, Setién has a full complement of midfielders.
They are light in general because, as Busquets said, that's how it was planned. But Setién doesn't have to change his tactics to make up for injuries and suspensions for the game. He opted for Rakitic in the middle against Napoli but that experiment didn't work. Arthur came on and did well but he is yet to truly convince this season. With the addition of Braithwaite, Vidal might drop back into a more central role if Setién feels he can't rely on the two mentioned before.
Players available: Frenkie de Jong, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal, Arthur and Riqui Puig
Players unavailable: None.
The most important man for Barcelona is available and analysis sometimes stops there but they are very short up front. We have seen evidence of that in recent weeks with Arturo Vidal being played as part of an attacking trident with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. He adds physicality and intensity but they lack width with the Chilean on the field. Ansu Fati in on hand to add that very thing but might not start.
They also have Martin Braithwaite to add some more nuance to their attack after landing the Dane in a late signing from Leganés. He did not play in Naples because he is not eligible in the Champions League but will be back on Sunday to build on a promising debut against Eibar last weekend.
Players available: Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite.
Players unavailable: Ousmané Dembélé, Luis Suárez.
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