Neymar out for month

Twin blow to Barca as Alba sidelined with injury

Neymar out for month

A nightmare eight days for Barcelona was compounded on Thursday when forward Neymar and defender Jordi Alba were ruled out for up to a month with foot and thigh muscle injuries respectively.

Brazil international Neymar has a bruise on his left foot which has caused a build-up of fluid while Spain left back Alba has a strain in his right thigh, Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).


The injuries were sustained during Wednesday's King's Cup final defeat to Real Madrid, with Neymar sidelined for about four weeks and Alba for three to four weeks, leaving them in a race to regain fitness before the end of the season.


If they recover within the estimated timeframe, they should return for Barca's final La Liga match at home to current league leaders Atletico Madrid on May 18, the club added.
With five games left, Barca are third in the standings, four points behind Atletico and one behind second-placed Real.


Last chance saloon

The Catalans’ defeat in the final means La Liga is their only chance of major silverware and anything other than a home win against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday would almost certainly end their dwindling title hopes.


The Catalan club's failures have piled the pressure on coach Gerardo Martino, who is in his first season in charge at the Nou Camp, and prompted suggestions the current squad is in need of a radical overhaul before next season.

Argentine Martino has a contract until the end of next term but appears doomed to become the first Barca coach to end a campaign without a major trophy since 2007-08.
Wednesday's defeat also marked the first time they have lost three matches in a row since the beginning of 2003.


They have dominated possession in key matches in customary fashion, and did so again against Real, but have struggled to create chances for proven goal scorers like Lionel Messi and Neymar and have been undone on the counter attack or conceded soft goals from set pieces.


Neymar did have a chance to level the Cup final at 2-2 a minute from time but his stabbed effort from inside the penalty area crashed back off a post with Iker Casillas well beaten.
It summed up Barca's night and their recent run of ill-luck when the ball ricocheted straight into the Real goalkeeper's hands instead of to one of the waiting Barca players.


Bilbao are fourth, 16 points behind Barca, and with a six-point lead over fifth-placed Sevilla are well placed to secure a place in Champions League qualifying for next season.
The Basque club will smell blood after Barca's recent stumbles and will be hoping for a repeat their 1-0 win at the San Mames in December.

Goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz warned against expecting an easy ride. "We mustn't forget that we are talking about Barcelona. About players who have won all the titles you possibly can and who have the ability to win any match," he said.

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