Tactical Insights

Three talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Osasuna

Injuries piling up for Barcelona

Barcelona are once again dealing with an extensive injury list with Ferran Torres the latest player to be forced out of action for the Catalans.

Torres lasted just minutes before twanging his hamstring and joining team-mates Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Marcos Alonso, Sergi Roberto, Inigo Martinez, Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Raphinha, and Joao Felix on the injury list.

The Spain international is the ninth first-teamer to be ruled out currently, leaving Xavi with just 12 fit senior players as things stand. We’ll try not to think about the knee injury Ronald Araujo seems to be carrying right now and the fact Joao Cancelo was hobbling by the end.

We all know that injuries are part of football, particularly with an ever-increasing number of games, but this is not a new situation for Barca and one that will likely make finishing the season on a high all the more difficult.

The good news is that Ter Stegen, Martinez and Christensen are all due back soon, but we won’t see Alejandro Balde or Gavi again and it remains to be seen when the others will return. With a Champions League tie against Napoli on the horizon, it’s really bad timing.

Indeed Xavi brought back Dr Ricard Pruna in 2021 in a bid to remedy his team’s injury problems but it remains a big issue issue and one that needs addressing by the new management.

Harsh night for Fermin Lopez

It looked like being a good night for Fermin Lopez as he was thrown into the fray with just seven minutes on the clock after Ferran Torres’ early injury.

The youngster, wearing his new No. 16 shirt after being registered with the first team ahead of the match, was a lively presence and brought plenty of energy after coming on.

There was a lot to like about his performance which made it all the more surprising when he was hauled off just after the hour mark and had to suffer the ignominy of a substitute being subbed.

There was no surprise to see Vitor Roque arrive, but the fact Xavi opted to take off Fermin to make space for the Brazilian raised plenty of eyebrows.

Vitor Roque’s instant impact means the substitution was quickly forgotten about, but there’s no doubt this will be a tough one to take for Fermin.

It speaks volumes for his character that he was one of the first to run onto the pitch to congratulate Vitor Roque at the final whistle.

Vitor Roque has lift-off

Vitor Roque was Barcelona’s match-winner against Osasuna as he opened his account for his new club on just his sixth outing.

It took the Brazilian just 68 seconds after arriving on the pitch to flick home a great cross from Joao Cancelo, with the outside of his boot, and get up and running for Barcelona.

There was lots more to like about Vitor Roque’s performance too. He added an energy and movement that had been sorely lacking in the Barcelona attack until that point.

Vitor Roque’s presence also saw Osasuna reduced to 10 men, with Unai Garcia picking up a second yellow for trying to pull back the defender on the turn.

He might have won a penalty too, after having his shirt tugged and being held back in the area, but somehow the referee wasn’t interested.

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