Skip to main content

Rafinha blow leaves Barcelona desperate for midfield reinforcement

It had looked to all the world like this season was going to be pivotal for Rafinha's chances of establishing himself as a mainstay in the Barcelona first team for years to come. After playing a part in every game so far, he was chosen to replace Ivan Rakitić in a move most Cules wouldn't have seen as particularly harming the team. Indeed, whilst there had been uproar about Lionel Messi only making the bench for the potential title decider in Madrid, there were no qualms about the man who had been chosen to take his place.

The season may still turn out to be pivotal for the son of world cup winner Mazinho, just not for the reasons he would have hoped. Two minutes after coming on, the young Brazilian was writhing in agony after being caught by Roma's Radja Nainggolan. Barça president was caught shaking his head in disbelief at the Blaugrana's misfortune, whilst Luis Enrique described the injury as "very ugly" post-match. Those initial fears have since been confirmed, with initial tests showing a torn ACL which will keep Rafinha out of action until, at the very least, the tail end of the season.

It is a bitter blow for the La Masia graduate, but also for his employers who now look without sufficient cover in both midfield and further forward. After a season where Barcelona conquered all before them, it is perhaps now more than ever that the Blaugrana will feel the effects of FIFA's transfer (read: registration) ban.

Being able to count on the talents of Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal will certainly help plug the gaping holes in the current squad come January, but until then there is little point bemoaning bad luck. Everyone from Bartomeu to Luis Enrique knew of the situation they were in, yet still took the calculated gamble of selling not only Pedro, but also Gerard Deulofeu, Adama Traore, Xavi, Montoya and Alex Song. All left for different reasons, but there is an argument to be made for the presence of all 6 helping to negate the crisis that Barcelona currently find themselves engulfed in.

After all this, it still must be remembered that this is a special team, distinctly capable of winning almost every game between now and January in record-setting pace. Yet even that would not carry significant concerns. For that to happen, it is likely that it will be done thanks to the contributions of the same 13-14 players in each match, just as Real Madrid had done last year.

As with Madrid, this would likely take a toll on the players at the business end of the season, where everyone is fully aware trophies are won and lost. Even if Turan and Vidal are able to provide rotation options by January, in an ideal world Luis Enrique would then like to be gearing up to playing each match with his favoured team.

An even worse situation would be if any of Iniesta, Rakitić, Messi, Suarez or Neymar pick up an injury before January. With little options available, Luis Enrique will almost certainly be forced to get creative in order to solve the problem.

So, what could the Asturian do to negate these potential problems?

Keep rotating

Rafinha's injury may have left Luis Enrique without players of similar quality to his starting XI on the bench, but that is no reason for him to stop rotating. He must instead trust the star quality of his players to see themselves out of a difficult period, especially at the Camp Nou, where the dominance of his team should compensate for a slight dip in quality.

This must be done intelligently, with too many rotations at any one stage likely to upset the balance and rhythm of the team, but the Asturian manager will know that and has so far proven to be a master of keeping his team fresh and firing.

Promote the youth

La Masia may be experiencing significant structural problems as a result of FIFA investigations, but that does not mean they have not already produced a number of players capable of stepping up to the plate for the team. Enrique has already called up Munir El Haddadi, Sandro Ramirez and Gerard Gumbau to the senior squad this season, but could also look to Álex Grimaldo and Sergi Samper to further reinforce a depleted squad.

Although not in current 'problem' positions, the presence of both players in the senior squad would allow Enrique to reshuffle his deck in terms of the positioning of his players. Given the shortage in midfield, Samper's calmness in possession and technical qualities would be a useful tool in seeing out matches at the end of the game. Equally, having Grimaldo would provide additional cover for left back, allowing Adriano to concentrate solely on the right hand side. 

Although not a major boost on paper, this slight tweak could see Sergi Roberto temporarily return to his role as a box-to-box central midfielder, further increasing the Blaugranas' options.

Buy in January

The reason I stated that this could still turn out to be a pivotal year for Rafinha is that Barcelona are now more likely than ever to strengthen in January. Whereas the purchases of players such as Nolito, Yarmolenko or even Paul Pogba were once looked upon as options, they could soon become a necessity. 

The addition of an incisive winger/striker is now an absolute must after the sale of Pedro in the summer and the latest set back to the squad.

By Joel Boyd, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @JoelBoyd10.

Have Your Say

Leave Rafinha a message of support! Do you think Rafinha can return to the level of performance he had been showing recently once he returns from injury?


  1. Rafinha could certainly not have been more unlucky. Tearing your right ACL is one of the worst injuries any footballer could possibly suffer and the road to recovery will be hugely difficult. His form of late had been outstanding, but I guess all we can do is look ahead to the future.

    Roma's Radja Nainggolan has gone on Twitter to issue a public apology but I'm sorry, that's simply not good enough. In my eyes, any player who purposefully causes a long-term injury should be sanctioned until the target of their unjustified aggressiveness recovers full fitness and returns to the pitch.

    Simple as.

  2. DRAGO20.9.15

    I am both surprised and disappointed that Sergi Samper seems to be out of favour.

    1. Very strange indeed, Drago. Luis Enrique seems to prefer the more physical Gumbau at this moment in time, in what perhaps be interpreted as a wake-up call for the far more skilled Samper.

      Difficult, confusing times at La Masia!

  3. Sibusiso Busho Thusi20.9.15

    Obviously we need an immediate solution that can only mean one thing=promote a La Masia player

  4. Ikuomola20.9.15

    Though Rafinha's Injury came as a Disappointment but it can be a blessing in disguise in the sense that it would pester us to sign a Good midfielder like Pogba and the likes,I wish Rafinha quick Recovery,There is gonna be alot of surprises this season,Up Barca.

    1. Never a great sign to have a Barca player getting injured but, as with everything in life, there will always be others who could take advantage of the opportunity and perhaps even surpass Rafinha's level.

      We will have to wait and see!

  5. Why should barca sign a new midfielder in january? Ardan turan nd alex vidal will be available in january, segio roberto wil now move bck and cover rafinha position...sandro and munir can cover pedro position, so why a new player?

  6. Peter20.9.15

    Barca still need to sign a new midfilder, should in case anyother person is out, they could be able to replace dat person, Ada Turan can play both attack n midfild role even Aliex Vidal can play rightback n attack role so to mine opinion, Barca need only a midfilder, maybe Paul Pogba or Philip Coutinoh will be OK


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

THE BARCABLOG PODCAST | Replacing Luis Enrique, Discussing La Masia | Episode I

We are proud to bring you our first ever The Barcablog Podcast! In this episode, Francesc and Dan discuss Luis Enrique’s replacement, Barça’s chances to win La Liga, the effectiveness of La Masia, Marlon’s impact on the first team, the future of Denis Suarez -- And some more mildly interesting random stuff!

Plus a special edition of ‘Random Corner’ in which the boys break down their horrendous 'The Worst 5 Barcelona signings of the XXI century' countdown. Did anyone beat Alexandr Hleb in our Top of the Flops list?

This episode is brought to you by FUBOTV. As a thank you, we have secured an EXCLUSIVE discount for you to watch every FC Barcelona match in HD by clicking HERE -- You will also be supporting our podcast as well as we get a very small commission whenever our link is used.

Enjoy the show!

BARCELONA PODCAST: El Clasico, Champions League elimination, La Liga

The latest Barca Podcast is now live! George Bennet from GB Articles interviewed Francesc Tomas and questioned him on Barca's recent El Clasico victory, the disastrous Champions League elimination and the decisive final matches in La Liga. You don't want to miss this!

Marco Reus, preferred transfer target for Barca fans | Barcelona News

Barcelona must improve dramatically to even dream of comeback vs Juventus

Barcelona host Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday (2:30 PM ET, EXCLUSIVE ONLINE STREAMING here). The Catalans, who fully deserved the 3-0 defeat in the first leg, will have to once again fight for a miraculous comeback in front of their home fans.

Luis Enrique's men must try their utmost to pile up the pressure from the initial whistle and score an early goal if they are going to have any chance of qualifying for the semifinals. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and the rest of the Barcelona stars must ensure they use the whole width of the pitch and constant ball movement in order to open up spaces within the Juventus back-line.

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta seemed to be up for the challenge during his pre-match press conference: "We have the potential and the players to turn it around. We have to play a perfect game. We have to create the maximum number of chances and score goals. I have no doubt there will be a great atmosphere tomorrow—the fans will be behind us. A…

Barcelona rewriting history after 1,500 matches at glorious Camp Nou

Barcelona have now played a staggering 1,500 games of football at the Camp Nou. The stadium, which was built back in 1957 to replace the legendary Les Corts Stadium due to the demand for tickets exceeding the ground’s capacity, has witnessed 1,119 Barca wins, 238 draws and only 143 defeats over the years.

Barca are clearly not invincible at the Camp Nou but their winning records of 75% and being unbeaten in 90% of home games speaks for themselves.

Barcelona have now become a global phenomenon thanks to not only their dominance, but also the many world-class stars that have been part of their squad over the years. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar take the vast majority of the spotlight these days, but their success can only be understood as a continuation of the work of legends such as Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Hristo Stoichkov or Lazlo Kubala over the years.

Camp Nou is a synonym of sporting excellence these days. The recent successes under the leadership of Luis Enrique…

Advertise on

Welcome to our Barcablog advertising page!

If this is your first visit to our blog, I recommend that you take a look at our Charity Mission Statement to know more about our community and all that our website has to offer.

An Introduction to Barcablog

Hi! I am Francesc Tomàs -- the person behind -- and your first point of contact for all media related enquiries. Let me give you an overview of the website and some of the advertisement options available for your business. was started in June 2010 as a hobby and in a few short years, it has become one of the most popular FC Barcelona blogs in the world, reaching a social media audience of 710,000+ followers and receiving positive feedback from many media outlets around the globe.

Thanks to the success of, I have had the chance to contribute to major outlets such as ESPN, Weloba and The Guardian, to name a few. My work has also been highlighted by the official FC Barcelona website several times ove…

Barcelona right to appeal Neymar controversial ban ahead of El Clasico

Neymar's decision to applaud the referee after being sent off during Barcelona's defeat in Malaga on Sunday was not very clever. His childish reaction after being shown a controversial red card gave the Spanish officials a golden opportunity to ban him for the Catalans' next three matches -- including the upcoming Clasico against Real Madrid.

As it was to be expected, the Barcelona board have wasted no time in starting the process to appeal Neymar's disproportionate ban. It is believed the Camp Nou giants will until Friday 21st April, two days before El Clasico, to file their appeal at the TAD Committee. That way, it is more than likely that the officials will run out of time to make a decision and be forced to postpone the case a further week -- meaning that Neymar would be able to suit up against Real Madrid after all.

Sure, Neymar's behaviour was out of order. Having said that, it is hardly surprising that the Spanish officials banned him for just enough matche…

Neymar must stay to secure Barcelona long-term success

Neymar has been excellent for Barcelona since he joined the Catalan giants back in the summer of 2013. Despite the many question marks over whether he would accept to share the spotlight with Lionel Messi, his professionalism off the pitch and even the legality of his transfer, the Brazilian youngster has made a remarkable impact and deservedly become a Camp Nou favourite.

As our partners as Sbobet Mobile know, Barcelona are not currently leading the La Liga table but nobody in their right mind would rule them out of retaining the title. If the Blaugranas are to leapfrog Real Madrid before the end of the season and win the league for the third consecutive season, Neymar has a huge role to play in the nine games remaining.

Fortunately for Cules, Neymar is currently playing the best football of his whole career. Fully established at both club and international level, the No.11's confidence and excellent form makes him a constant danger that rivals constantly struggle to contain -- …

Neymar, Messi, Ter Stegen lift Barcelona to greatest comeback in Champions League history

Sergi Roberto’s last gasp winner against Paris Saint Germain became an instantly legendary moment that Barcelona fans will cherish forever. Although the Camp Nou faithful are aware that qualifying for the Champions League quarterfinals is not a huge achievement in itself, the players’ determination to complete the biggest ever comeback in the biggest club competition in world football was impressive.

While it came down to Sergi Roberto to seal the historic win, the La Masia graduate was certainly not the only player to excel in Barcelona’s most important game of the season.

Neymar was, without a shadow of a doubt, the leader who took the Catalan giants to victory. His premonitory ‘1% chance, 99% faith’ tweet before the ball started rolling at the Camp Nou could not have been more fitting for the excellent performance that followed.

The Brazilian star proved a constant nightmare that the astounded Parisian back-line simply had no answer for. His astute positioning, magical dribbling a…

Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain Preview plus Champions League betting preview

Barcelona will host Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday 8th March in the return leg of the Champions League round of 16. Given the horrendous 4-0 defeat at the Parc Des Princes in the first leg, the Blaugranas are in need of a miracle to overcome the deficit.

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and the rest of the Barca stars underperformed so alarmingly against the French champions that even thinking about qualification for the quarterfinals seems more like science fiction than a realistic possibility.

Having said that, if there is a group of players who can achieve such a feat, that is Barcelona. If Luis Enrique's men score early enough in the first half and their attacking trident is inspired from the moment the ball starts rolling, nobody could rule out a thrashing of the Parisians at the Camp Nou -- The ideal comeback to silence their ferocious critics.

There's no two ways about it: Barca have not had a good season in terms of results and quality of football. That being said…