Sergio Busquets was injured by a harsh, though unpunished, foul in FC Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Eibar SD. Thankfully, he’ll only be out two weeks, but in the meantime, Barcelona will play probably three games without him: a cup return leg against Real Sociedad and a league game each against Celta Vigo and Athletic Club Bilbao.
And the man tasked with replacing Busquets, at least most of the time, will probably be Ivan Rakitić. The Croatian was the chosen one to replace Busquets as he had to be hauled off against Einar, and performed well for the rest of the match.
Luis Enrique has other options, namely André Gomes, Javier Mascherano, and Sergi Roberto. But Rakitić could end up amassing the most minutes in that position, which would come in contrast to a start of the season in which he played less than he was accustomed to.
Barcelona are also coping without Andrés Iniesta, but Barcelona will have to rely on Denis Suarez, Rafinha, and Arda Turan to carry the slack, in addition to Gomes and Rakitić.
Rakitić lacks the elegance of Busquets on the ball, not to mention the razor-sharp speed of mind he possesses. On the other hand, he adds mobility, strength, and shooting to the midfield.
It’s clear Rakitić cannot match up to Busquets at the defensive midfield position, but he can provide a credible alternative, particularly against teams that don’t press as well.
It’s only three matches, it seems, but they could prove crucial. A boost in form from Rakitić, despite the positional change, would be immense.