News emerged this morning regarding the fitness of Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, as the Frenchman was ruled out of tomorrow's match with Bayern Munich with Achilles discomfort, but he won't be the only Frenchman to miss out. Bayern Munich have confirmed that Franck Ribery has lost his battle to return at the Camp Nou and rather than make the trip with the rest of the squad, the French winger will remain in Bavaria to continue his recovery.
So too will Bayern Munich's other world-class winger, Arjen Robben, as the Dutchman picked up an injury in last week's DFP Pokal defeat against bitter rivals, Borussia Dortmund. The absence of two key players is sure to hit Pep Guardiola hard, as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with his former club for the first time in competitive action since departing the Camp Nou in 2012.
Of course, Robben and Ribery were pivotal in the last clash between the two sides, serving as constant menaces on either flank in Bayern's humbling 7-0 aggregate victory. While no-one wants to see another player injured, Barcelona will be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that with Robben and Ribery out, Bayern's attack loses quite a lot of it's bite.
However, not all hope is lost for Pep Guardiola. There is a suggestion in the media that he will be looking to pack his side with central midfielders anyway in a bid to control possession and limit Barcelona's offensive opportunities. He knows the threat that Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi can pose; therefore it may work in his favour that his side lacks natural width and that he therefore has to clog up the centre of the field and place a target man, like the returning Robert Lewandowski, in attack.
As yet, there is no word on whether Robben or Ribery will return in time for the return leg, scheduled for a week today.