Xavi Hernandez is to miss Barcelona’s Copa del Rey last 32 second leg at home to Cartagena on Tuesday due to his continuing calf muscle issues, while Carles Puyol could feature even though the veteran defender is reportedly considering retiring from the game soon.
Xavi was rested for Barca’s La Liga game at home to Villarreal on Saturday, but was introduced from the bench with the game at 1-1 early in the second half. The playmaker’s influence was enough to ensure his side won 2-1, it was later confirmed in a club statement that the 30 minutes on the pitch had set back his fitness.
“Club doctors confirmed today that Xavi Hernandez has strained the soleus muscle in his right leg and will miss Tuesday’s round of 32 Spanish Cup match against Cartagena as a precaution,” Sunday's statement said. “The international midfielder came on for the last half hour of the match against Villarreal last Saturday.”
While reports in the local media suggest the playmaker, who turns 34 in January, will be fine to play at Getafe next Sunday in Barca’s last game before the winter break, his fitness remains a worry for Blaugrana fans. Issues in his ‘soleus’ muscle problems dogged him through most of the 2012-13 campaign, and he has problems in that area as far back as the 2009-10 season
Another long serving Barcelona stalwart with similar concerns is club captain Carles Puyol, who suffered a nightmare 2012-13 due to problems with his right knee, and admitted last May that he had considered calling it a day. The determined defender, 35, then vowed to return, and said he could well play until he was 40, however reports suggest the knee has yet to heal 100 percent and he recently needed to have further fluid drained from the area.
Puyol’s has managed to play five games since returning to action last month, however Mundo Deportivo claim he finds it very difficult to recover after completing 90 minutes, and is so fed up with the situation that he is even considering retirement. The Catalan daily say another option would be to continue playing, but in a less demanding environment such as Qatar or the MLS.
Blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino may give Puyol another chance to test the knee during Tuesday’s game against third tier Cartagena at the Camp Nou, when he is likely to give fringe squad members and kids a run with his side 4-1 ahead from the first leg.