With more LaLiga Santander fixtures on the horizon, Barcelona will play with a somewhat depleted squad should the game against Mallorca go ahead on Sunday.
Barcelona, following a somewhat turbulent half season, will look towards greener pastures as 2022 looms around the corner. The first opponent on the Catalans’ new year schedule is Mallorca, who themselves have been struggling in the league, finding themselves 15th in the 20-team table and a mere five points from the relegation zone.
Xavi Hernández’ side have showed signs of improvement since the appointment of the former Barcelona-midfielder in November. The prospect of the potential ‘rebirth’ of Dani Alves, who arrived on a free shortly after Xavi’s appointment, was a source of excitement for many of the Blaugrana faithful. The Brazilian could not be registered in the league before January, seeing as the transfer window opens then, and the hope for many was to see Alves being handed his second Barcelona debut, though this time at the Iberostar Stadium.
That, however, will not be the case, as Alves and three Barcelona defenders have tested positive to COVID-19 over the span of two days. Clément Lenglet and Dani Alves tested positive late Monday evening, whereas Jordi Alba joined the list Tuesday around noon, with Alejandro Baldé joining the list Tuesday evening.
All four players are in ‘good health and isolating at home’, the club has stated on social media. Subsequently, all four will rightfully be absent from the first team’s Tuesday training session at 6:00 PM local time at the Estadi Joan Gamper.
Thus, their chances of taking part in the first fixture of the new year are very slim. This added to the already lengthy list of injured players for Barcelona which sees players like Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, Martin Braithwaite, Sergiño Dest, Memphis Depay, Pedri and Yusuf Demir all sidelined, poses another round of trouble for Xavi as it adds further constraints to the list of players available for selection for the upcoming fixtures.
Moreover, the Terrassa-born manager is faced by the restrictions put forth by the LaLiga regulations with regards to youth players, as he and his technical staff only are allowed to field 3 non-first teamers at once. Barcelona can field 4, but should they lose a first-teamer during the game, it could lead to an automatic default loss given the injuries. (h/t journalist Toni Juanmartí).
Barcelona will kick off the new year with 4 games in 10 days, if no games get postponed, and among the opponents will be Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Supercopa de España.