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Frenkie de Jong and Pedri Injured in FC Barcelona's Dreadful 0-0 Stalemate Against Athletic Club

Frenkie de Jong and Pedri Injured in FC Barcelona’s Dreadful 0-0 Stalemate Against Athletic Club

Barcelona, now managed by their former club captain in ex-Spanish midfielder Xavi, won the 2022/2023 Spanish La Liga trophy and was faced with their title defensive campaign in 2023/2024. However, the Catalan Giants did not manage to find a good run of form in the Spanish top-flight football this time around with huge deficits seen in between the league leaders and archrivals Real Madrid and themselves. Just yesterday, not only Xavi’s Barcelona could not penetrate through Athletic Club’s defence at the latter’s home, but the team also lost two crucial team members in Dutchman Frenkie de Jong as well as Spain’s wonderkid Pedri in the stalemate.

Fresh off their 4-0 demolition versus Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid over two legs of matchups in the 2023/2024 Copa del Rey Semifinals in reaching their second Spanish Cup Final in four seasons, fifth-placed Athletic Club returned to home to welcome Barcelona on Matchday 27 of the current Spanish La Liga campaign. The visiting Barcelona, on the other hand, won four times and drew twice in their six trials in all competitions this season and were looking to leapfrog Girona FC to the second place of the La Liga table following the latter’s 1-0 defeat to RCD Mallorca.

Despite Xavi’s Barcelona having superior advantage in terms of ball possession over the home team Athletic Club, which was translated into 61% against 39%, both teams managed the same numbers of total shots as well as shots on target throughout the normal playing time of 90 minutes plus stoppage period. Barcelona’s real chance of drawing first blood came around the hour mark, when the opposing goalkeeper attempted to clear the ball away off an attack by the visitors. The ball ricocheted to João Cancelo, who is on loan from three-time defending English champions Manchester City, who then fired a long-ranged shot that almost caught everyone off guard.

Barcelona just could not penetrate through Athletic Club’s defence with their two shots on target, ending the game with a goalless result. But what was worse for Xavi’s side was that they lost both de Jong and Pedri early in the first half. For the Dutchman, who only made 27 appearances for Barcelona this season, was replaced by Fermín López in the 26th minute, whereas young midfield sensation Pedri was forced to leave the pitch and made way for 16-year-old right winger Lamine Yamal right before the stoppage time was awarded in the opening 45 minutes.

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There are no latest and confirmed updates on the severity of injuries suffered by both midfielders de Jong and Pedri, but things certainly did not look good at first glance since both had to be subbed off before the half-time whistle. For the 26-year-old Dutchman, the injury blow just does not sit well, as he had already missed 11 of Barcelona’s games earlier in the 2023/2024 Season due to a knee injury and fever problems, whereas the 21-year-old had also been out as a result of a hamstring injury and muscular problems.

At the moment, both Barcelona midfielders De Jong and Pedri have been diagnosed as suffering from ankle injury and hamstring problem after initial scans in the aftermath of the Bilbao-Catalan Giants game, and it is likely that the latter will not find it easy in 2023/2024 since it is the third time the Spaniard has issues with his muscles this year.

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Xavi certainly was not pleased with Barcelona’s performance against Athletic Club last night and he was all-honest during the post-match conference. The ex-Barcelona player stated: “We didn’t play a good game. We didn’t attack well and we had to take a step forward. We’re sad because we didn’t give our best and the game required more from us. We’re saddened by the missed opportunity, the team could have given so much more. We’re disappointed because we weren’t at the level that the game required.” 

Xavi then spoke about his dismay over the injuries happened to two of his most important players at Barcelona de Jong and Pedri. “It’s unfortunate because of the injuries to two very important players. Between today and tomorrow we’ll know more, but it doesn’t look good. We’re affected. I think the team could have been affected as well, and I imagine those two absentees will be for games [Coming up]. It’s a sad day. We tried, and we generated a lot on Lamine’s flank, but we didn’t play the desired game,” said the former midfield maestro from Spain.

After their goalless result against Athletic Club, Xavi’s Barcelona are set to return to their home ground of Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys to face another finalists of this year’s Copa del Rey campaign RCD Mallorca on Matchday 28 of the Spanish top-flight football season in 2023/2024, whereas Athletic Club will travel to Gran Canaria for their own league feature against UD Las Palmas later that same matchweek.

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