Competition Focus

FC Barcelona Receive Huge Injury Setback Ahead Of Real Sociedad Match

FC Barcelona have received another huge injury setback ahead of their must-win clash against Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Barca suffered their first defeat of the season against Real Madrid in El Clasico last weekend, falling four points behind their bitter rivals in the title race as a consequence.

As Los Blancos don’t play until Sunday night when they meet Rayo Vallecano, the Catalans’ showdown with La Real presents a chance to cut the deficit to a single point and also equal a 68-year record.

SPORT reported in the aftermath of the 2-1 loss to Real Madrid that Barca would look to recover Pedri and Frenkie de Jong for their date in Anoeta.

Essentially this would be like Xavi Hernandez’s squad receiving two new signings, such is the length of time that the two men have been absent.

Yet there has been bad news on the eve of the tie, with the same newspaper reporting that De Jong has been discarded ahead of the published squad list failing to bear his name.

Struggling to recover from a tibiofibular syndesmosis in his right ankle picked up before half time against Celta Vigo towards the end of September, the Dutchman did not train with his teammates at the CE Joan Gamper on Friday morning.

Losing De Jong for more time than expected is a hammer blow for Xavi’s planning.

In addition to the La Real match, Barca also have a Tuesday trip to Hamburg where they face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League prior to a hosting of Alaves which is their last game ahead of the international break on November.

With De Jong not around, the form of pivot Oriol Romeu has seriously plummeted after the La Masia graduate initially looked to be one of the bargains of the season when bought from Girona in the summer.

Ilkay Gundogan could take Romeu’s place in the starting line up as he did in El Clasico, leaving Fermin Lopez and Gavi in the more advanced midfield positions.

Though he will not start, Pedri should give the Blaugrana a boost by entering the proceedings at some stage in San Sebastian after being sidelined since August.

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