Barcelona defender Marc Bartra says that fitness issues meant he was unable to keep up as Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale sprinted away to score the decisive goal in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final at the Mestalla.
With regular starter Gerard Pique absent with a hip injury, Bartra, 23, was declared fit to start only an hour before the game, and he headed his side’s equaliser against the run of play with just 20 minutes remaining.
But the youngster was left trailing in Bale’s wake as the winger ran 60 metres before poking home the late winner, and he had to be substituted immediately afterwards.
The La Masia graduate told reporters in the mixed zone afterwards that he had been far from fully fit for the game, but hoped the injury which forced him off had just been cramp.
“Things did not go for me, I have spent the whole week screwed because of the hamstrings,” Bartra said. “I tried to hold on but I was not good physically and in the end it was not to be. I didn’t train at all with the team before the game, not even this morning. In the end I played and I felt good, but I was very tired in the final minutes. I cramped up in the final play.”
Barca left-back Jordi Alba also had to be withdrawn from the action, with a hamstring issue seeing him substituted at half-time.
The Catalan club’s initial medical statement did not give full details on the injury, but recalled that a similar problem earlier in the season had led to a lengthy absence for the Spain international.
“Jordi Alba picked up an injury in the first half of the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, and he was subbed off at the break for Adriano [Correia],” the statement read. “Initial tests confirm that the player sustained an injury to his biceps femoris in his right leg. He will undergo additional tests this Thursday.
"This isn’t the first injury the player has picked up this season. In round four, against Sevilla, he picked up a similar injury in the same leg, and when he was practically recovered, he injured his left leg. He missed a total of 16 matches.”