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Barcelona will be looking to win their third consecutive match when they face Athletic Club, but injuries will make it trickier for them to do so.
Xavi’s side have made a mixed start to 2023, extending their lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and beating their rivals in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg but losing to Almeria and being knocked out of the Europa League by Manchester United.
The absence of Pedri played a big part in those disappointing results, with the midfielder being ruled out by a thigh issue in mid-February.
Here’s how his chances of playing in Bilbao are looking, and the rest of the team news for the visitors.
Barcelona only just managed to beat Valencia last time out, scraping a 1-0 victory, and that’s largely because Ronald Araujo was shown a straight red card.
As a result of that, the defenders won’t be available for the match against Athletic Club, with one of Eric Garcia and Marcos Alonso likely to step in for him and partner Andres Christensen instead.
No other Barcelona players are suspended for the game, which is a good thing for Xavi given the issues on the injury front…
Arguably Barcelona’s two most important players this season have been Pedri and Robert Lewandowski, and both have been dealing with thigh problems.
The striker hasn’t played since the last weekend of March, missing two matches, while the Spaniard has been absent for six games. Ousmane Dembele has been out for even longer, missing the last eight clashes.
That will become nine with the Frenchman yet to recover from a muscle problem, and while Lewandowski looks set to return and Frenkie de Jong seems to have shaken off a minor knock picked up against Valencia, things aren’t as positive when it comes to Pedri.
The match in the Basque Country ultimately looks to have come too soon for Pedri, who is still recovering from his problem.
Such an issue usually takes around a month to heal, and with a crucial El Clasico coming next weekend, Xavi will be reluctant to rush his compatriot back into action just over three weeks after he suffered the injury.
Given that De Jong is likely to be fully fit too, it seems all but certain that Pedri will sit this match out and focus on returning in time to face Real Madrid.