In amidst the celebrations on Saturday as FC Barcelona cruised to their record-breaking 27th Copa del Rey title, a dark cloud threatened to rain on the proverbial Blaugrana parade as talismanic midfielder, Andres Iniesta was forced off before the hour-mark with what was revealed to be discomfort in his calf. Enter Xavi Hernandez for the rest of the match, and cue mass hysteria and panic on the streets of Catalunya and in the dressing room at the Camp Nou.
"What if Iniesta could miss the UEFA Champions League final?!?!"
For a moment, that seemed to be a distinct possibility. Marca ran the story that he was a doubt for Saturday's showpiece event in Berlin, while beIN Sports also claimed Iniesta might face a race against time to be ready for kick-off. The lack of a definitive rebuttal from Luis Enrique in his post-match press conference only served to enhance those concerns and all of a sudden, maybe Barcelona's quest for a second treble had hit something of a roadblock?
Certainly, it brought back memories of the build-up to the 2009 final contested in Rome where a thigh injury threatened to rule Iniesta out of contention, only for the Spaniard to start, and star, in our winning effort.
Thankfully, sources at the club told Barca Blaugranes today that despite Iniesta's seemingly questionable status, there is no doubt that he will be ready to start the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday against Juventus. Having rested today, Iniesta's prognosis looks positive and in any case, both the club and the player are prepared to risk a relapse or indeed an aggravation of the injury if necessary. In short, the only thing keeping Iniesta from playing on Saturday will be head coach, Luis Enrique.
And therein lies the reason why the club are keeping their cards close to their chest. Enrique knows how important the midfield battle will be on Saturday, especially against a Juventus outfit boasting the talent and work ethic of Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal. In short, we cannot afford a passenger in the midfield and if Iniesta isn't 100%, Enrique would like the option to drop our vice-captain to the bench without causing too much controversy. There's only a very slim chance of that happening, but Lucho wants to keep all his options open until he can be sure.
Plus, isn't it good to keep Juventus guessing?