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BARCELONA

Barcelona injury update before Champions League game against Porto

Xavi has huge squad decisions to make ahead of Barça’s game against Porto in the Champions League - and now Ter Stegen looks to be ruled out.

Update:
Xavi has huge squad decisions to make ahead of Barça's game against Porto in the Champions League - and now Ter Stegen looks to be ruled out.
AXEL HEIMKENAFP

A late and shocking injury absence to Barcelona casts further doubt on the state of the squad as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen - widely believed to have recovered from his acute back injury which kept him out of the game at the weekend - did not train 24 hours ahead of the UEFA Champions League game against Porto.

Instead, Iñaki Peña, Astralaga and Yako were the three goalkeepers who completed the session.

Barcelona take on Porto on Tuesday 28 November (KO 3 p.m. ET / noon PT.) in what is a crucial tie for, without wanting to sound too much like I have seen a footnote in the Doomsday book, a potentially pivotal tie regarding the future of the season and the project that the blaugrana have bet on with club legend Xavi at the helm.

For the game, Barça boss Xavi has big squad decisions to make regarding various players who have either been injured and unavailable, or questionable in terms of match fitness.

How do things look for Barcelona? Will they qualify?

As things stand, Barcelona sit top of their group with 9 points from 4 games, having beaten Antwerp (5-0), Porto (0-1) and Shakhtar (2-1) before losing to the Ukrainians (1-0) ahead of the international break. In terms of the results on a screen, things look solid, but there is mere tracing paper covering the chasms that lie below: Barça’s lacklustre playing style and consequently Xavi’s future at the club have both been questioned in the swirling vortex of public opinion over the past few weeks and months, with the team winning yet failing to convince, something that Barcelona know is not an option.

Added to that is the fact that Porto, despite the seemingly promising position in which the Catalans find themselves, are level on points at the top of the group; things even look slightly unfair if we take the first game between the two into account, which was the slimmest of wins for Xavi. Barcelona have made a habit of finding late goals and winning by paper-thin margins this season, and Porto away was the perfect example of that.

Widening our gaze and taking in the group as a whole, if we assume that Antwerp will lose to Shakhtar, who impressed both home and away against the LaLiga title holders, that will put them on equal points with Barcelona should the Catalan side lose to Porto. A win for Barça takes the pressure off; anything other than that throws them into final day drama.

Shakhtar Donetsk's win over Barcelona threw a curveball in Group H of the Champions League.
Full screen
Shakhtar Donetsk's win over Barcelona threw a curveball in Group H of the Champions League.AXEL HEIMKENAFP

Which players are injured for Barcelona?

The big injury news is that Gavi, the Scrappy-Doo of the Catalan squad, is out for the long term with a torn ACL that he suffered while on international duty with Spain. The midfielder was taken off in the first half of the game against Georgia and will be out for the rest of the season, and quite possibly the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament in the summer.

Which players will return for Barcelona?

Xavi can count on the centre-back pairing of Ronald Araújo and Jules Koundé, who both missed out on the 1-1 draw to Rayo.

As we slide our eyes further up the pitch, all of Ilkay Gündogan, Raphinha and João Félix are heavily expected return to the starting XI that will look a lot more balanced against the Portuguese outfit than they did against Rayo, where Barça felt like a stodgy pudding, as though playing football in flip-flops and jeans. Sergi Roberto, although not expected to start, also returned to training.

The Group H game between Barcelona vs Porto will be played on Tuesday, November 28, with kick off at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT.

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