Injury hit Barca can't afford mistakes in Villarreal

Injury hit Barca can't afford mistakes in VillarrealMadrid, Jan 27 - Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola will have to overcome a serious injury crisis in order to keep his side's bid for a fourth successive Spanish Primera Liga title alive.

Barcelona progressed to the semifinal of the Copa del Rey Wednesday night with a 2-2 home draw against Real Madrid after a physical match which served to lengthen Barca's already long injury list.

Andres Iniesta will be out of action for three weeks after suffering a muscle tear in the game, while Alexis Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury which could keep him out for a fortnight, Xinhua reported

They are added to a list of absentees which already includes David Villa (broken leg), Ibrahima Affelay (knee injury) Andreu Fontas (knee), and Seydou Keita, who is away on African Cup duty with Mali.

The absences to an already short squad means Guardiola will have to call on members of the Barcelona B team for Saturday's trip to Villarreal. Winger Isaac Cuenca, who has already played a few matches this season, can expect a call-up, as can Jonathan Dos Santos, who played as a substitute last weekend in Malaga, while Sergio Roberto could also have a chance of travelling.

Barcelona are five points behind Real Madrid and that gap will probably have widened to eight points given that Madrid play bottom of the table Zaragoza earlier Saturday.

Villarreal, meanwhile, are having a terrible season with the side, which was expected to be playing to qualify for a place in Europe, locked in a battle to avoid relegation. Jose Molina replaced Juan Carlos Garrido as manager just after Christmas and lost his first game in charge away to Atletico Madrid.

Villarreal have problems in attack with Giuseppe Rossi out for the season following a knee operation and Nilmar looking to leave the club before the end of the month. That means Molina will continue with Marco Ruben and B-team striker Joselu in attack.

It promises to be a tense match with both sides desperate for points, but for strikingly different reasons.(IANS)



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