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Mar 262014
Despite beating Celta de Vigo handily at home 3-0, seeing off their former player Luis Enrique in his return to the club that made him famous and gave him his first shot at management, the club is reeling from an injury to first team keeper Victor Valdes in the 22nd minute. He denied a free-kick, landed wrong and was stretchered off. It was determined later that he had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament and would miss not only the rest of the season but likely will not be fit for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Coach Tata Martino would be interviewed later and shared his thoughts: "We won't sign a goalkeeper. We will finish the season with this group. I am not one to believe in bad luck, but at this stage of the season I thought everything that was to happen had already occurred. I was wrong. It's a big blow but this team has rolled with punches for some time now and we will pull through this."

He's right, it is a huge problem for the blaugrana in the short-term, backup keeper Jose Manuel Pinto is serviceable in short stretches, but is he consistent enough to handle the fatigue of three competitions and the pressure of the Champions League this late in the tournament? Are they prepared to go with one of their Barca-B keepers as backup? I don't think so. In the long-term however I believe Barcelona were well down the road to replacing the mercurial Valdes with 21 year old Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Valdes had elected not to renew his contract while Sandro Rosell was President but had wavered since Neymar-gate occurred and the 32 year old from Hospitalet had already sent feelers to the Premier League and Ligue 1.

What is worse though is that Valdes was on form and was in serious contention to take the first team keeper slot away from Iker Casillas who had been relegated to second keeper. Now Vicente del Bosque will likely select Casillas as the starter and use Napoli's Pepe Reina as his back-up, bringing David de Gea as the third keeper to give him some World Cup exposure. Either way this is a huge blow for Spain entering this momentous competition.


The Ball is Flat

The Ball is Flat is a website and podcast devoted to the Beautiful Game. Football, Futbol, Fusball or whatever you call it, it is the game that divides and unites us. The Ball is Flat's mission is to cover European football with an eye open, the heart in motion, and the brain colored with the right amount of cheerful cynicism. Read more:

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