Report: In a injury shortened season Carles Puyol appeared in only 22 games - a career low as a professional football player. Puyol began the season as healthy as he's been in recent years, but just two weeks into the season he was sidelined for the first time. But it was not a serious injury as the captain missed only a couple games.
In his first game after recovering from that knee injury, against Benfica, Puyol suffered a horrific elbow dislocation that was expected to sideline him for two months. But Puyol wouldn't be Puyol if he didn't make a mockery of the expected recovery time and come back after just six weeks. Despite making a strong recovery Puyol only once in the entire season started three consecutive games. It was evident that the captain wasn't physically as strong as he was even in the season before.
But that didn't stop Puyol from playing at a high level whenever he was on the pitch. Always sure-footed and positionally sounds he was very rarely beat one-on-one. And Barcelona's backline was most organized when Puyol was the man responsible for its cohesiveness.
Sadly, in February it became obvious that Barça's captain isn't quite playing at full speed, but that in no way meant that he was a liability in the defensive phase of the game. Later in that same month it became known that Puyol is again being bothered by a knee injury, however, at first it appeared that he will play through the pain. But after making a substitute appearance in the Champions League second leg against AC Milan Puyol announced that he will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
While there was initially some hope that the iconic defender will make another triumphant return ahead of schedule and play again in the 2012-13 season, that didn't happen. Puyol's loss certainly hurt Barcelona's defensive play, his leadership abilities were especially missed. Puyol's health problems also limited his international participation as he only made on appearance for La Furia Roja.
Moment of the season: Even though Puyol's playing time was severely limited he still managed to get on the scoreboard twice. Fitting for a center-back both goals were headers, one of them coming in the league with the other one being scored in the Copa del Rey. But the one scored against Malaga in the Copa del Rey was simply brilliant. Thiago's corner kick wasn't very accurate, but it didn't matter to Puyol, who demonstrated tremendous touch to head the ball in off the far post.
Resumen de FC Barcelona (2-2) Málaga CF - HD (via La Liga)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||7.05|
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Carles Puyol in the starting lineup: 14-3-3
2013-14 Outlook: It is expected that Puyol will be fully healed when the season begins, but with his injury history it's appropriate to ask how long will he remain healthy? Hopefully Puyol can avoid hurting himself, but even if he does at the age of 35 he can't be viewed as a full-time starter anymore. Puyol should enter the season in rotation with Javier Mascherano to play alongside Pique. But if Barcelona ends up buying a center-back Puyol's playing time will probably experience a further drop-off.
Next Up: Martin Montoya