Pedro, Xavi add to Barca injury concerns
Barcelona's injury problems continue to mount, with the club confirming that winger Pedro Rodriguez is out for ten days with a calf muscle tear, and fears growing that playmaker Xavi Hernandez may miss Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Paris Saint-Germain.
Both Pedro and Xavi played in Spain's 1-0 World Cup qualifying win in France on Tuesday - with the former being substituted soon after scoring his side's winning goal, and the latter lasting all 90 minutes despite being a doubt right up to kick-off due to his continuing groin problem.
Barcelona have now confirmed that Pedro, who is suspended for the game at PSG, is definitely out of Saturday's La Liga visit to Celta Vigo too.
"Pedro Rodriguez will be out of action for 10 days," a club statement said. "Tests confirm that Pedro sustained a small tear in his right calf muscle. The forward had to abandon the match on Tuesday at Saint-Denis against France after 75 minutes. Pedro will miss the match this Saturday against Celta and he is doubtful for next weekend's match against Mallorca."
Xavi's situation is less clear. Mundo Deportivo reported on Thursday morning that he had returned "injured" after playing all 90 minute in Paris and was definitely out of Saturday's trip to Galicia, however Barca have not commented officially.
The Catalan playmaker missed his club's last game before the international break against Rayo Vallecano due to the injury, and Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and doctor Ramon Cugat voiced concerns he could do further damage to the affected area if he returned too quickly to action. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque left the final decision up to the player, who declared himself ready to play against France.
It is expected that Xavi, who spoke before the last 16 return leg at home to AC Milan about needing an injection to get through that game, will again do whatever it takes to play at the Parc des Princes next week. However Barca boss Tito Vilanova, who returned to Catalonia this week after two months receiving medical treatment in New York, still has plenty of other injury worries to consider, particularly in defence.
Jordi Alba pulled a hamstring in Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland last Friday, and hopes to be back in time for Tuesday's game. Experienced centre-half Carles Puyol underwent a knee operation two weeks ago, and utility man Adriano tore a thigh muscle in the 3-1 win over Rayo on March 17. Both players may not have recovered before Barca's possible Champions League semi-final ties in late April.
These issues will likely see an unfamiliar Barca defence against 19th-placed Celta at Balaidos on Saturday. Martin Montoya could play at left-back, while Barca B centre-half Marc Muniesa has been tipped to start the game. Elsewhere Jose Pinto will start in goal with Victor Valdes suspended, and youngsters Thiago Alcantara, Cristian Tello and Gerard Deulofeu could all feature.