Barcelona manager Luis Enrique faces a new injury dilemma ahead of the La Liga trip to Real Betis on Sunday (29 January) after Javier Mascherano suffered a knock during Thursday's 5-2 win over Real Sociedad. The Argentine star had said after the victory he hoped to recover soon but his participation in the weekend tie is uncertain after he failed to appear in the video released by the club during Friday's recovery training sessions alongside his teammates.
Mascherano's potential absence against Betis would be of special concern for Luis Enrique as Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Rafinha Alcantara are also expected to miss the trip to Sevilla – after being absent during the Real Sociedad victory due to various injuries.
The Barcelona boss was eventually forced to restructure his lineup in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals to cope with their absences, deploying Mascherano back in his original holding role while filling the two remaining positions in his midfield formation with Denis Suarez and Andres Gomes.
The former Liverpool star excelled in the position where he made his name at Anfield but was forced off and replaced by Ivan Rakitic in the 65th minute due to a knock.
Questioned by Bein Sport after the game whether an injury was the reason behind his substitution, Mascherano confirmed: "Yes, I had some niggles. I felt a little fatigue but I hope to recover soon."
Asked how he managed to adapt to Busquet's role, he added: "Obviously it is a position that I like. It is where I played my whole life. Due to different circumstances I changed here in Barcelona but I try to enjoy when I play there."
Mascherano has never hidden his preference to play in midfield but it is now uncertain whether injuries will allow him to continue in the role when Barcelona visit Betis on Wednesday.
Iniesta, Busquets and Rafinha are also expected to miss Sunday's trip to Sevilla but Mundo Deportivo is reporting that the first two players may be back in contention for the first-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday (1 February).
The Catalans also learnt on Friday morning that Diego Simeone's side will be their opponents in the next round while the other semi-final will be between Alaves and Celta Vigo, who knocked Real Madrid out in the quarter-finals.