Pep Guardiola might have some explaining to do.
The Barcelona manager decided to play several of his regulars in a Copa del Rey match against Hospitalet on Thursday. Though Barcelona soundly defeated the lower division club, 9-0, it came at the expense of losing Andres Iniesta.
Iniesta sustained a thigh injury after a collision with Hospitalet goalkeeper Carlos Craviotto and had to be substituted. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious, and it now appears that Iniesta could be back for a Jan. 8 match against Espanyol.
But it still raises the question why Iniesta was playing in the first place. The Catalans were going to make easy work of Hospitalet, and didn't need to risk the health of their important players for an almost meaningless match.
We went for the ball, and never let our guard down, Guardiola told Marca, a Spanish publication. I did not want our team to slip up. We wanted to put the triumph in the cup [Club World Cup] behind us. We came from a long flight, and I asked my players to take the game seriously.
Barcelona at times look so dominate that they could devote Copa del Rey matches to showcasing up-and-coming stars to ensure the success continues beyond its current stars.
Iniesta is one of the most vital players to Barcelona. His masterful passing skills are a big reason for the Catalans' success in recent years. If his injury were more serious, Barcelona's title hopes could be dashed.
Guardiola may have learned a lesson from the Iniesta scare, and we might be seeing more youth players for less important matches in the future.