Andres Iniesta says that Barcelona’s players will not be distracted from their end-of-season goals by Victor Valdes suffering a serious knee injury in Wednesday’s otherwise routine 3-0 La Liga win over Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou.
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Valdes, 32, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee making a straightforward save with his side 1-0 up in the game, and it was later confirmed that the goalkeeper -- who is set to leave Barca in the summer when his contract ends -- faces around six months on the sidelines.
Iniesta told AS after the game that Barca’s players had not really had time to take in all the problems which have hit the club this season, including serious injuries to Lionel Messi, Valdes, Neymar and Carles Puyol, as well as off-pitch issues around Neymar’s tax issues and Iniesta’s own family.
“The game changed with Valdes’ injury,” Iniesta said. “It is fateful news. The important thing is that he recovers well. Football has this component. We play at a frenetic rhythm. For good or bad there is no time to take in anything. We are Barca and mentally ready to take on situations which are at the limit.”
The injury aside, the result -- achieved via a Neymar double and clinical Messi strike -- saw Barca up to second in the table and continued the upswing in optimism around the Camp Nou following Sunday's 4-3 win at Real Madrid, Iniesta said.
“It is normal that now after the injection of morale from winning at the Bernabeu, we are plugged in again,” he said. “ There are just a few games left and we are up there. We cannot let pass even the smallest slip from a rival. They are all finals now.”
Having laid on Messi’s goal during an outstanding first-half personal display, Iniesta was substituted at half-time with a minor problem with his left hamstring, but said he should be available for Saturday’s Catalan capital derby at Espanyol.
“I noticed a little problem,” Iniesta said. “The game was comfortable and we preferred not to take any risks and to be ready for Saturday. The derby is much more than a game for the two teams. It is very special for the situation which we are in. We will go there to try and win, although we know the difficulty there always is. The team is good enough to do that.”
Valdes’ injury also means Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque will have to choose a new keeper for this summer’s World Cup, with Manchester United’s David de Gea, 23, expected by many to step up, and Real Madrid’s Diego Lopez, 32, another option.
Del Bosque told Al Primer Toque radio show that he had not yet had time to decide who to call up as his initial thoughts were just that the Catalan keeper would recover well.
“It is very sad, firstly as it is a very bad injury for him,” the veteran coach said. “It is always bad when you cannot continue to play with your club or with us at the World Cup. I will not get into who might be the substitute for Victor. The first thing is to hope that he recovers and comes back well. At this moment we have not thought so much about what might happen, just about him as he is in a bad moment.”