Xavi Blasts 'Crazy' La Liga for Not Postponing FC Barcelona Match as Team Grapples With COVID
23:46 GMT 01.01.2022 (Updated: 23:47 GMT 01.01.2022)
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez called La Liga “crazy” for not postponing Barcelona’s match at Mallorca as the club grapples with the Covid surge. The Catalan side has 10 positive Covid cases, combined with injuries and suspensions to key players.
Xavi will be without 17 first-team players against Mallorca. Sergino Dest, Abde Ezzalzouli Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Gavi, Dani Alves, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde and Samuel Umtiti have all recently tested positive for Covid.
Sergio Busquets is out via suspension, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati, Pedri, and the newly-signed Ferran Torres will all miss the game due to injuries.
The onslaught of positive Covid cases and injuries has forced Xavi to rely on Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
"We will turn to the B team and we will go there to win the game, but we have 17 players missing," Xavi said.
Xavi currently has nine first-team players available, however, two are goalies, but eight players from the B team have been training with the first team to prepare for the match. The demand on healthy first-team players and the youth academy led Xavi to direct his ire towards La Liga.
"I am worried. It seems crazy to me that [LaLiga] won't suspend it," Xavi said of the situation. "It makes no sense to play. We're at the very limit. Common sense should have prevailed.”
"The rules are very tough. Mallorca are in a similar situation, albeit not as severe. It's chaotic, but we will go there for the three points," he added.
La Liga rules state that all fixtures should be played if each club has at least five first-team players available and are able to field a 13-man squad by pulling from the reserve team. The league has also allowed for postponements if a team is without a goalie.
Barcelona is saddled with a €1.35 billion debt, and missing out on the top four and the Champions League could lead the club toward a form of financial ruin. The club is seventh in the league, with 28 points after 18 matches, but are only two points off the top four.
Mallorca are 15th in the league. A game between the two is the type of match Barcelona must consistently win to keep pace for a European spot. Game postponements are a double-edged sword, however.
While postponing the match would potentially allow Barcelona to field a stronger side, it would guarantee fixture congestion later in the season. Xavi may be bemoaning La Liga’s rules, but in the age of Covid, this may be the best solution.