by Farah Hussein

Last week’s Uefa Champions League game between Barcelona and Benfica was going perfectly fine for the home side. They were heading to their sixth consecutive victory with two goals from Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, looking to secure a clean sheet, and it was the return of their captain.

With just 15 minutes to go however an incident occurred that had the Twittersphere recoiling in shock and millions around the world concerned. Carles Puyol awkwardly fell on his arm and dislocated it while throwing himself at a corner. This horror injury that soured the Catalan side’s victory meant that he will remain in the sidelines for up to eight week, missing the El Classico this Sunday.

The injury as it happened…

Benfica won a corner with only 15 minutes to go. Carles Puyol threw himself trying to clear it but instead fell in an uncomfortable and awkward position on his arm, resulting in dislocation in his elbow. Everybody looked away as Puyol cried for help. Team-mate Alexis’s reaction and Puyol’s twisted arm was enough to inform you it was disaster. His expression said it all. You don’t always see the ‘lionheart’ crying in pain except its serious.

Medics rushed for the rescue. Puyol tried to stay calm as he was stretched off the pitch and a day later, he was smiling. This picture showed up and re-assured his fans that he was fine.

But matters were far from fine. Barcelona are facing arch-rivals Real Madrid this evening and going through such a big event without your skipper (again) is the last thing a team would want. Some said that his absence will aid in giving younger players a better chance to play and prove their worth; like Marc Bartra for example. However, I don’t think that any manager will be looking forward to trying new inexperienced youngsters in a game like a Classico. Managers would attempt to play experienced powerful players instead; but with the absence of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, Tito Vilanova has got no better option than to pair Alex Song and Javier Mascherano in defense.

Playing young players might be a good option for Vilanova against weaker teams, but not against Los Blancos. So the captain’s absence will be highly noticed in the Classico.

Recently, we have noticed that Puyol has become increasingly blighted by injury. His aggressive and brave style of playing might be a major reason for his recent blows. This injury, for instance, is his second major injury this year as he earlier went through a knee operation last summer that also saw him miss out on his country’s successful Euro campaign last summer. His injuries have also denied him much playing time so far this season as he only managed four appearances out of a possible 10.

With over 563 appearances to his name, ‘Tarzan’ might need to play in a less aggressive style or stay away from unnecessary tackles and blows because at the age of 34, the skipper might not have too many good years service left in him. His body might not be able to take any further blows either. For now though, let’s just wish the Blaugrana skipper a fast and well recover.