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Barcelona draw marred by Pedri, De Jong injuries

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Published in Soccer
Sunday, 03 March 2024 17:17

Barcelona are facing an injury crisis in midfield after both Frenkie de Jong and Pedri were forced off in the first half of Sunday's LaLiga draw with Athletic Club at San Mames.

De Jong was taken off on a stretcher in the 26th minute after landing awkwardly on his ankle. The Netherlands international spent two months on the sidelines earlier this season with a sprained ankle.

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Pedri, meanwhile, came off just before the break with his third muscle injury of the campaign. A hamstring problem ruled him out for two months in August and he missed three weeks at the turn of the year with another muscle issue.

Both players will undergo scans on Monday, but Barça coach Xavi Hernández says it does not look food for either of them.

"The injuries affected the team because Frenkie and Pedri are two important players for how we want to play," Xavi said in his post-game news conference.

"Pedri's been coming good again [after his last injury], he trained really well this week. It's such a shame. Frenkie, too. He is heavily involved in our play. They are two big losses.

"It doesn't look good. We missed them today and we are going to miss them. Hopefully it's for less time than expected."

The match against Athletic ended in a 0-0 draw, leaving Barca right where they started the day: in third place on 58 points, eight behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.

"It was a big opportunity wasted," added Xavi as Barça missed the chance to cut the gap on Madrid, who were held by Valencia on Saturday, and climb into second ahead of Girona, who lost to Mallorca earlier on Sunday.

"We did not play well. Maybe the first 15 minutes was OK, but the rest wasn't. We can't be satisfied. We have to be self-critical. We should have taken a step forward.

"It's true this is a tough place to come, but we are disappointed because it wasn't how we wanted to play. Perhaps the only positive is how we defended."

However, the big negative was the loss of De Jong and Pedri ahead of key games in both LaLiga and the Champions League before the international break at the end of March.

Barça are already without midfielder Gavi, who was ruled out for the season in November after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Spain.

Xavi used centre-back Andreas Christensen and youngster Fermín López alongside Ilkay Gündogan after losing De Jong and Pedri in Bilbao.

Oriol Romeu is another option to play in the middle of the park with Barça set to play the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against Napoli on March 12 at the Olympic Stadium. The first leg in Italy ended 1-1.

Prior to that game, Barça host Mallorca in LaLiga on Friday and they then travel to top-four rivals Atlético Madrid on March 17.

In addition to De Jong, Pedri and Gavi, Barça are also currently without left-backs Alejandro Balde and Marcos Alonso and forward Ferran Torres due to injuries.

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