Andrés Iniesta remains a doubt for FC Barcelona’s big UEFA Champions League match against Chelsea next week. He pulled a hamstring in his side’s 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid, and while it was less bad than initially feared, it’s still thought to be a long shot for the pale knight.
The loss of Iniesta is especially bad, and it’s not just because he is an amazing player who you would always miss. That’s because...
Philippe Coutinho is Not Eligible in the Champions League
Iniesta’s natural replacement is Coutinho, but because of UEFA rules, he cannot play in the Champions League. Coutinho already played the Champions League for Liverpool this season, which makes him cup-tied and thus ineligible to play the competition this season with another team. If not for that, Coutinho would be a sure starter.
Nélson Semedo is Also Injured
The right-back’s absence also complicates the situation further. Why? Because Ernesto Valverde loses the possibility of moving Sergi Roberto from fullback into midfield, and put in his second right-back as a starter. Valverde could theoretically play Aleix Vidal or someone else there to move Roberto up, but such an option is a lot less plausible. It’s too bad for Semedo, because otherwise, he could be starting this match.