Barcelona deny they have been hamstrung by a taxing pre-season
Although Barcelona are still unbeaten this season, top of both the early La Liga table and their Champions League group, there remains the feeling that the team has started the season unsteadily.
A major reason for this has been the run of injuries affecting many of the club’s important players, which continued both before and during Sunday’s 1-0 win at Sporting Gijón.
On Friday Cesc Fábregas injured himself stretching for a shot in training, while defender Eric Abidal limped off during Sunday’s game, becoming the sixth Barca player - alongside Fábregas, Andrés Iniesta, Alexis Sánchez, Ibrahim Afellay and Adriano – to be hamstrung so far this season. Centre-half Gerard Piqué has also missed a number of games with a calf-muscle strain.
Talking before the Sporting match, coach Pep Guardiola said that his players were unlucky and hamstring injuries were not uncommon. “There have always been injuries in football and especially with this muscle. "
On Sunday night the Catalan coach hinted that his team’s busy recent schedule was also not helping. “Fatigue can be the case, because we came back from a long journey (from Belarus for a Champions League game) and we began to feel the weight in our legs,” he said.
This has caused questions to be raised in Spain about Barcelona’s preparation for the new season, which included a commercially driven schedule of six games in 15 days in Croatia, Germany and the USA.
Before the La Liga and Champions League seasons began there was also the two-legged Spanish Supercopa against Real Madrid and the European Super Cup against Porto.
Adriano, who scored the winner in the narrow victory in Gijón, was also asked about the run of injuries. “It could be because we are playing so many games in a row,” said the Brazilian. “But our pre-season was very good and we are just having bad luck with the injuries.”
This week’s international break is well timed for Guardiola, and there is a good chance of Abidal, Fábregas and Iniesta being back for the team’s next La Liga game at home to Racing Santander on October 15.
It could just be that his players are just suffering a run of particularly bad luck, but Barca fans will be hoping that the apparent injury jinx stops soon and that maybe next year’s pre-season schedule will not be quite so taxing.