Though Barcelona were able to defeat Celta Vigo 3-0 on Wednesday night to put more pressure on the top of the La Liga table, there is a hush surrounding the Catalan club.
After just 22 minutes of action, keeper Victor Valdes pulled up injured after saving a free-kick. He would then be stretchered off the pitch holding his face in pain and disappointment.
Injuries are always a worry, but for La Blaugrana this could be a major setback for their title hopes. The club has officially confirmed that he has torn his ACL; Valdes will miss the rest of the season, including the World Cup in Brazil to undergo surgery.
A quick look at the keeper’s statistics via Squawka.com will show that he has been invaluable this season.
In 26 La Liga appearances, Valdes has only conceded 21 times, making 2.31 saves per game and earning 13 clean sheets in the process. His performances in the Champions League have been nearly identical.
Several times this season, Valdes has saved Barcelona. Whether making a big stop to keep a clean sheet or literally saving points for the Catalans, the 32-year-old was having one of the best seasons of his career before this injury.
Unfortunately, he has likely played his last match in the Blaugrana shirt.
Though fans and teammates alike will be wishing Valdes a speedy recovery, Barcelona must look to what will happen next.
Barcelona’s defense has been a lot more dependable this season than last year, but there are still big holes. The likes of Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano continue to show that they can be beaten, and if not for Valdes, they could have cost the club many more points this season.
Without Valdes behind the defense as an insurance policy, the club will have to turn to 38-year-old Jose Manuel Pinto.
Pinto is no stranger to the pitch. Back in 2006, he won the Zamora Trophy while playing for Celta Vigo, but that was a long time ago. Today, the keeper has featured as the backup to Valdes and Barcelona’s Copa del Rey starter.
Now that Pinto will be pushed up to the starting role, questions will begin to be asked. In his five La Liga appearances this season, he has conceded four goals and only managed to keep a single clean sheet.
In truth, Barcelona may be able to find some sort of compensation, but it likely won’t be a big move. For now, they are stuck with Pinto as the starter and will have to deal with the situation that has fallen to them.
For the most part, Pinto has performed well for Barcelona. He does have a tendency of trying to do too much with the ball, which has cost him over the years, but he is a more-than-capable shot-stopper.
The real issue is how well he can perform in the big games this season. Barcelona are neck-deep in a title race and still have to face Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final and Atletico Madrid twice in the next round of the Champions League.
If statistics and performances tell us anything, it is that the loss of Valdes at this point could jeopardize the rest of the season for Barcelona. Unless the defense is able to pick up form from this point on, their chances of winning the league or Champions League will be very small.
The season is not lost for Barcelona. They are still contending for a possible treble and will look to overcome this loss. But just how bad will the loss of Victor Valdes be for the club?
Tough times are on the horizon; it’s time for Barcelona to show that they can overcome and be true champions.
Can Barcelona overcome this loss? Leave your thoughts and comments below!