Barcelona take extreme measures to prevent more injuries before El Clásico against Real Madrid
The LaLiga champions will be without Jules Koundé and Frenkie de Jong, with Robert Lewandowski, Pedri, Lamine Yamal and Raphinha all doubtful.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say Barcelona have been plagued with injuries at the start of the 2023-24 season. While some players, such as Robert Lewandowski, Frenkie de Jong and Jules Koundé, have been struck down by knocks suffered in the heat of the battle on the field, others have sidelined by unexpected muscle injuries, such as Pedri, Raphinha and Ronald Araújo.
Which Barcelona players will miss El Clásico through injury?
As things stand, there are six players in the Barça treatment room. Koundé and de Jong have been ruled out of El Clásico against Real Madrid on 28 October, while Lewandowski and Raphinha face a race against time to be fit. There is at least more optimism that youngsters Pedri and Lamine Yamal will be available, but with several players currently away on international duty, head coach Xavi Hernández will be praying they return to Catalonia unscathed.
Faced with more than half a team on the sidelines, the club have taken steps to ensure no players take unnecessary risks before one of the biggest games of the season. Since Xavi returned to the club as manager in November 2021, his fitness coaches and medical staff have played key roles in ensuring the first-team roster is in top condition. The 41-year-old is well aware of the importance of injury prevention work and has laid out clear guidelines and training regimes.
What activities have Barça players been banned from doing?
However, that still hasn’t been enough to prevent a spate of injuries at the start of the season. As a result, a number of unwritten rules within the dressing room have been more tightly enforced.
As tends to be the case in professional soccer across the board, players are completely prohibited from participating in high-risk physical activities, from obvious ones such as skydiving or mountain climbing, to less “extreme” sports such as cycling.
As a result of Barça’s recent fitness issues, the current squad have also been told not take part in any sporting activities away from the training ground, which includes playing basketball, paddle tennis (very common in Spain) and even jogging.
No extra fitness work away from the training ground
On top of that, the players have been advised not to do any extra fitness work in their own time, which most will be accustomed to doing. Many have personal gyms at home and work with personal trainers to ensure they leave no stone unturned in their quest to be in peak condition. But Barcelona have now told them to stick to the programs given to them by the club, which are more than enough, and avoid doing any extras, which could affect their performance and lead to more muscle injuries.
The club is keen for its medical staff to monitor every player’s recovery at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, although those who are suffering from long-term injuries may be granted permission to carry out their rehabilitation away from the training ground if the medical staff deem it suitable.