FC Barcelona Hit with Setback as Key Defender Suffers Hamstring Injury

Barcelona have confirmed that Inigo Martinez has a biceps femoral muscle injury in his right hamstring and will be unavailable for selection for the time being. Fans would have feared the worst when news broke out that Martinez was pulled from the club’s XI against Atletico Madrid on Sunday (3 December). He was replaced by Andreas Christensen in the starting XI after injuring himself in the warm-up. The club haven’t given a return date for Martinez, who has been a key player in Xavi Hernandez’s set-up. He played the full 90 minutes in all of Barca’s last five league games and has made a total of 10 appearances for his new club. Barcelona signed him from Athletic Club on a free transfer in the summer to strengthen their backline, which also includes Jules Kounde, Christensen, and Ronald Araujo. The 32-year-old has been consistently performing well, so much so that reports claim he could encourage the financially troubled club to sell Christensen. It remains to be seen who Xavi starts in the backline when the Catalan giants host second-placed Girona on Sunday (10 December). It is worth mentioning that Marcos Alonso can and has deputized as a center-back under Xavi. But he is also on the sidelines and unavailable for selection due to back problems. Atletico Madrid had the chance to overtake Barcelona in the table when the two sides met at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Sunday. But the script was written for Joao Felix to score the winning goal against his parent club. The Portuguese striker seemingly fell out of favor with Diego Simeone last season and has since been loaned to Chelsea and Barcelona, respectively. Felix ended up scoring the only goal of the game, handing his team an invaluable win. Raphinha carried the ball to the final third in the 28th minute but it seemed like his hard work was wasted due to an under-hit pass. However, Nahuel Molina seemed to get his judgment all wrong and let the ball find Felix’s feet. The former SL Benfica star’s imperfect first touch was followed by an impeccable left-footed dink over Jan Oblak. Barca are still third in the table with 34 points from 15 matches — trailing Real Madrid and Girona by four points. Atletico are fourth with 31, but have a game in hand over the three teams above them.