FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Eric Abidal

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - JANUARY 28: Eric Abidal of Barcelona in action during the la Liga match between Villarreal and Barcelona at El Madrigal on January 28, 2012 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Report: Éric Abidal has been through a lot these past two seasons. First, last season, he was diagnosed with a liver tumor which was later successfully removed. He made a miraculous recovery soon after some said he will never play football again let alone play it at a level he was playing at in previous years. Abidal proved them wrong, and not only was he playing at an amazing level, he was probably the MVP of the defensive corps of the first months of the 2011-2012 season.

Playing at left-back or center-back it didn't matter to him. The three man defensive line also didn't cause him any problems as Abidal again showed he is one of the most versatile players on the team. The combination of experience, agility and deceptive speed made Abidal a nightmare for opposing attackers as he seemed to have an answer for every threat.

But just as it appeared Abidal's career was back on track disaster struck again. On the one year anniversary of the announcement of Abidal's liver tumor, on 15 March 2012, it was announced that Abidal will require a liver transplant to resolve problems that the first surgery was unable to repair. The news came as a shock to everyone.

Abidal never publicly talked about his problems but judging by the words of teammates and people that know him it appears that the Frenchman takes everything as a test of his will and body. He actually continued to train with the team until the date of the liver transplant.

The transplant was a success and both Éric and his cousin Gerard, who donated part of his liver, are expected to make a full recovery.

Despite missing the last almost three months Abidal still appeared in the same number of games as Gerard Piqué and even managed to start more of them than his fellow defender. What's even more amazing is that while playing almost 3300 minutes Abidal was only shown one yellow card.

#AnimsAbidal

Arron Duckling's View: It seems like an age since we last saw Eric Abidal in a Barcelona shirt, and I suppose it has. It's been nearly five months since he started against Atletico Madrid, and not a day has passed since where I haven't wondered whether last season would have ended differently if Abi had not been sidelined. Would Ramires have got free down our left with Abidal in the team? What about the Clasico and Ronaldo's goal? Not only that, but what about the psychological impact of his absence?

Regardless of the "what ifs", Abidal played superbly before undergoing his transplant. As a player that was coming off the back of a serious operation, his return to form was just that little bit sweeter, with the highlight being the winner against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey. Knowing that he played and trained for the club, giving it his all each and every day, in spite of the fact that he knew what lied ahead...well, if that isn't an automatic A, I don't know what is.

Moment of the Season: Abidal the goalscorer... Who knew. He scored his first career Barcelona goal last season in the Copa del Rey - a game winner. This season he added another goal to his name and again it was in the Copa del Rey and again it was a game winner. Abidal scored the second goal in Barcelona's come from behind victory against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Abidal received the ball from Lionel Messi and in the style of the world's best strikers calmly beat Iker Casillas to the far side.

(The replay of Abidal's goal begins at 2:22)

Real Madrid vs Barcelona 1-2 All Goals in Copa Del Rey 18-01-2012 (via husseinalsmadi1996)

Stats:

Appearances 38
Games started 35
Started on the bench 6
Substitute in 3
Substitute out 7
Minutes played 3283
Goals scored 1
Assists 3
Shots 9
Shots on goal 5
Fouls committed 22
Fouls suffered 27
Yellow cards 1
Red cards 0

Record with Eric Abidal in the starting lineup: 24-9-2

2012/13 Outlook: At this point anyone's guess - even for the doctors. Abidal is currently recovering from the liver transplant, a surgery after which nobody has ever come back to the football pitch. But if anybody can do it's Abi, hell, he came back just months after a surgery to remove the liver tumor and led Barça to Champions League glory. Abidal will do everything in his power to play again and I think I speak in the name of everybody that we all wish he accomplishes his goal.

Next Up: Adriano Correia

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