The 2020/2021 season has been a rough ride for Catalan club Barcelona. They suffered an early bumpy start to the season coming from the attempts by the mercurial Argentine, Lionel Messi, to force through an exit from the club, a testy change of managers, the resignation of the entire Board and a slump in results that left them needing to struggle to climb back up.
Yet, even as they have endeavoured to do that, what has consistently dogged their every sense of progress has been one negative turn of events or the other. The moment they seem to be riding high and finding their form, an injury here or a leaked publication from backroom shenanigans of their previous Executive Board emerges to spoil their advancement.
It has happened again. After their heroic comeback and sensational victory over Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla championed by none other than veteran centre back Gerard Pique, who provided the equaliser with the last touch of the ball in regulation time, the defender has picked up an injury in his knee for what could be some more time on the sidelines having only returned from a lengthy injury.
Barca confirmed that he hurt himself when he attempted to pull a backwards pass to French teammate Clement Lenglet in extra time. Turning his body in a sudden movement did the damage forcing him to a hobble before he received the attention of the medical staff. Despite that, he continued on in pain asking Ronald Koeman to not let him be subbed off.
The 34-year-old Spaniard returned to active squad involvement recently from an injury he sustained early on in the season against Atletico Madrid. Barca fans, who trust in his marshalling of the defense, saw this as a terrible omen especially for the prospects of winning some silverware this season because substitute defenders were lacking Pique’s experience.
However, the veteran opted for conservative treatment as opposed to surgery, which helped him recover quicker. He was back within a four-month period and made his first start since the Atleti game against Paris Saint-Germain, which, in itself, was a terrible game to return to after his lengthy layoff.
Another injury now is a disappointing turn of events given that the team lacks another reliable defender beside Oscar Mingueza, the substitute for Pique. As has been his ill fortune, Ronald Araujo has been perpetually injured this season, while Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti do not look robust enough to sustain pressure from opposing strikers especially ahead of a must-win return fixture against Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain with a 4-1 deficit in the first leg.
Pique would have been a crucial cog at the back if the Catalans could even dare to hope for something of a miraculous comeback in the UCL. But, he is now suspected to be out for three weeks. In that timeframe Barca will play Osasuna, PSG, Huesca, Real Sociedad, and probably even the game against Real Valladolid before they can hope to see him back on action.
That is all too typical of what their season has been like so far.