Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has admitted that his decision to play Ousmane Dembele against Lyon on Wednesday backfired as the French attacker aggravated an existing hamstring injury.
Dembele was brought on from the bench against Lyon during the club’s Champions League last 16 clash, despite being an injury doubt for the match.
The attacker is now likely to be sidelined for up to a month after tearing his hamstring soon after scoring his team’s fifth goal of the night at Camp Nou – subsequently meaning that he will miss out on France’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland.
Valverde said to reporters ahead of his side’s La Liga clash against Real Betis on Sunday (as quoted by Goal): “He’s injured, it was a decisive game and, although he had a niggle, we thought it was important to play him.
“He played and had a little problem. We hope he’s back in three weeks. We took a risk and now we’ve lost him for three or four weeks. The player was feeling great, he didn’t think he had a problem and thought he could play perfectly.
“We knew he had a slight problem because of how he finished [training] the day before, but it didn’t seem to be something to stop him playing. I felt it was a good idea to put him on. Had the scoreline been different I may have made a different decision. You never know what’s going to happen.
“The doctors do their job, the player does his and the coach makes the decisions. I knew there was an element of risk, as I’d spoken to the doctors. That’s their job and I made my decision because it could have been a decisive game. We had to take a certain amount of risk.”
Sunday’s match at Benito Villamarin could prove a vital step in Barca’s title defence, with victory against Betis opening the gap to second place Atletico Madrid to 10 points, following Los Rojiblancos’ shock 2-0 defeat away to Athletic at San Mames on Saturday.