Ousmane Dembele’s injury problems are a real frustration
Ousmane Dembele was back in the starting XI against Celta Vigo and in with a great opportunity to play his way into the team for Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Tuesday.
However, the 21-year-old lasted just four minutes before sinking to the turf after picking up yet another problem, later confirmed to be a hamstring injury.
❗ [BREAKING NEWS] O.Dembélé has a hamstring injury in his right leg. He'll undergo tests tomorrow to determine the exact extent of the injury. pic.twitter.com/q3Ze4JijJE— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 4, 2019
Ernesto Valverde said after the match he suspected a muscle tear which could bring a premature end to Dembele’s second season at the club.
If so, it will be big blow for Dembele, Barcelona and supporters. The Frenchman was in great form earlier this season, bagging 14 goals and six assists, before injuries disrupted his campaign.
Barcelona have coped well without the youngster this season, but it’s hugely frustrating to see such a talented player spending so much time on the sidelines with injury.
Todibo, Wague and Puig show their potential
As expected Ernesto Valverde rotated heavily for this game and handed a host of youngsters some important first-team minutes.
Despite the defeat there were some notable performances with Jean-Clair Todibo, Moussa Wague and Riqui Puig all taking their chances to impress.
Todibo was selected ahead of Jeison Murillo and made his second La Liga start after joining from Toulouse in January. The centre-back looked composed throughout before he was forced off with an injury in the second half.
Wague also put in a lively performance at right-back. The Senegal international looked a threat going forwards and was a little unfortunate to concede the penalty.
And then there’s Puig who continues to live up to the hype on just his second La Liga start and looks completely at home in the first team. With two La Liga games left to play we may see more of the youngsters before the end of the season.
Barcelona will be well-rested for Liverpool trip
The biggest positive of Saturday’s game came from the players who did not even make the trip to Balaidos.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Marc-André ter Stegen, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto were all given the day off, so too the suspended duo of Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.
Philippe Coutinho, Clement Lenglet and Nelson Semedo made the trip but did not make it off the bench, while Arthur played an hour and Arturo Vidal was given the last 30 minutes.
All of which means Barcelona’s first-team will be well-rested for Tuesday’s crucial trip to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Barcelona head to Merseyside with a 3-0 lead and an almost fully fit squad, apart from Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele, and they surely could not have asked to be in a better position going into such a crucial fixture.