Hello there guys, those of you who read my preview to the Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid game would be knowing that I was against Iniesta starting the game yesterday and guess what? My fear has come true now, Iniesta wasn’t able to handle the physicality offered by Simeone’s men. Now we are in danger of losing him for the 2nd leg of the R-16 in the UEFA Champions League game against Chelsea.
We always had what it takes to beat Atletico without Iniesta right from the beginning. He was taken off exactly at the 36th minute and on came Andre Gomes as a substitute. This means that we didn’t let Atletico go past us for the remaining 54 minutes of play. When we could get the job done without Iniesta for 54 minutes, why didn’t we try to do the same for 90 minutes? Our coach Valverde needs to realise that he spent almost 300 million on Philippe Coutinho & Ousmane Dembele for this very purpose. The whole reason behind these names coming to Camp Nou was to add squad depth and not overuse Iniesta to lose him to injuries. Even if Iniesta wasn’t injured, he isn’t in a physical condition fit enough to play 2 high intense games in the span of 10 days. Its just high time we accept that.
Another alternative he should have done is, he should have atleast benched Iniesta for the game against Las Palmas and played him directly for this game. Iniesta didn’t have to start the game against Las Palmas away, if there was a plan to start him against Atletico. He is way past the age to play back-to-back games within 72 hours which involves 2,000 kilometres of flying as well. Now what has happened has happened and we have to wait on an official update on Iniesta’s injury.
There have been several reports saying that its a hamstring injury which means he would be out for 3-4 weeks and on the other hand, there are contrary reports which say he can still make it to the Chelsea game in case of miraculous recovery sessions in the upcoming days. However, none of these reports seem to be official and we are yet to receive any communication from the club stating that he won’t be available for the Chelsea game. So let’s hope for a miracle and to have him back as quickly as we can.
It’s hard to imagine facing Chelsea without him in the XI despite the fact that its Camp Nou, a fortress where beating us is close to impossible. But it’s high time we start preparing ourselves for alternatives and tactical adjustments in order to make up for his non-availability, if it happens as reports say. Valverde has got Andre Gomes, Paulinho, Aleix Vidal, Paco Alcacer & Denis Suarez for the remaining 2 positions in midfield apart from Sergio Busquets & Ivan Rakitic. Personally I would go for something totally different and change the whole shape of the team to adapt to not only Iniesta’s absence but also to the way Chelsea play. I will get back to you guys with that different shape & formation which I feel is worth trying & may well work out against the Blues. But knowing Valverde, he isn’t likely to change the formation or shape. So we can expect two of the above mentioned names to start on either side of Rakitic and Busquets.
As far as my suggestion is concerned, I would recommend this. Let me give you all a hint about what change of formation/ shape I’d prefer….
Here it goes:
You guys might have figured out what I am trying to say here. Meanwhile, let’s wait on what the situation turns out to be with our beloved captain, Don Andres…