Adriano Correia limped out of Barcelona’s 3-0 La Liga win at Celta Vigo on Tuesday night, leaving Gerardo Martino with an issue at left-back ahead of Friday’s Catalan derby against Espanyol.
• Ledwith: Cesc shoots down Celta
Martin Montoya was introduced as a substitute for Adriano in the first half at Balaidos, and the youngster could now be set for a run in the team given first-choice left-back Jordi Alba is also unavailable with a hamstring problem and not expected to return until late November.
A Barca club statement after Tuesday’s game read: “Adriano was unable to complete tonight’s match against Celta due to issues with his left thigh.
“The Brazilian left-back was subbed off for Montoya on the 31st minute in the first half. Manager Tata Martino decided to make the sub as a precaution. The player will undergo additional tests on Wednesday. This evening’s match was Adriano’s tenth consecutive game, his ninth in the starting line-up.”
The injury aside, the game went well for Barcelona, who went ahead early through Alexis Sanchez, suffered for a while as Celta came back strongly, but then sealed the win in the second half through an own goal from home keeper Yoel and crisp strike from Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas, who played much of the game in advanced midfield role ahead of the more defensive-minded Alex Song and Sergio Busquets, told Barca’s website that he had been delighted to get on the scoresheet -- and that Martino’s rotation policy was helping him feel more important for the team.
“It’s been a while since I’ve scored and I regretted not getting on the scoresheet against Osasuna,” the former Arsenal player said. “It’s always better to score. Now that I have quite a few games under my belt, I feel important and the only thing I have to do is play well for the team.
“These rotations really help out the players and it makes us all feel important. I had the freedom to play up top. We pressured well and the first goal was scored because we were in a good position.”
The result stretched Barcelona’s lead in La Liga to five points over second-placed Atletico Madrid and nine points over third-placed Real Madrid, although the Catalan side have played an extra game.
Fabregas said it had been important to remain focused, with the Celta game coming so soon after Saturday’s more high-profile 2-1 win over Madrid.
“We are pleased,” he said. “The team played a good and complete game. We had a dip in the first half but in the second we played well. We knew that the Clasico was important because of what it represents, but later we had to come here, on Tuesday at 10pm, and it seems as though it’s not as important. These three points are the ones you need at the end of the season.”
Fabregas and his colleagues are now aiming for another victory against their local rivals on Friday at the Camp Nou. “A derby is a derby,” he said. “It will be difficult. We expect to see the best version of Barca -- and to win the three points.”