Friday Kickoff: Neymar out for 4 weeks; Guardiola ends rotation policy; and more

Neymar of Barcelona gestures in frustration after being fouled

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Barcelona didn’t just lose the Copa Del Rey to rival Real Madrid on Wednesday evening. They also lost yet another one of their starters to injury.

After undergoing tests on Thursday, Barcelona announced on their website that Neymar has been ruled out for four weeks with a foot injury, potentially ruling him out for the rest of the La Liga season. Neymar suffered the injury during the match but played through it, nearly tying the score in the 90th minute.

It’s the second injury that Neymar has suffered in Copa Del Rey action after he suffered a sprained ankle in January and missed nearly one month. Barcelona also announced in a separate release that Jordi Alba has suffered a tear in his right hamstring, ruling him out for three to four weeks.

If Neymar can rehab within the team’s timeline, he should be available for the season finale against Atletico Madrid, a game that could decide this season’s La Liga title. Neymar has scored 15 goals in 40 matches in all competitions during his first season in Europe.

Here are some more stories to start off your weekend:

GUARDIOLA PLANS TO BRING BIG GUNS TO BRAUNSCHWEIG

Following two recent league defeats, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has decided to end his rotation policy even with a crucial Champions League match against Real Madrid on the horizon.

Guardiola is planning to bring a nearly full-strength squad to face relegation-threatened Eintracht Braunschweig, with the exception of injured or unavailable players such as David Alaba Manuel Neuer, and Xherdan Shaqiri.

“We know how important the game is for Braunschweig,” Guardiola said, via BILD. “The best players will play. There are some injured players, so there will be no rotation. We can not afford to rest now. I can not do that.”

After Bayern clinched the Bundesliga title on March 25, Guardiola began to rest his players more and let the team focus on the cups, with the reserves taking part in the league matches. However, it’s meant consecutive league defeats to Augsburg and Borussia Dortmund, where Bayern were routed at home, 3-0.

Bayern face Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

SUAREZ, STURRIDGE, AND GERRARD MAKE POY SHORTLIST

Liverpool’s tremendous success on the field has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the English Premier League.

Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, and Daniel Sturridge all made the shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award, giving Liverpool a 50 percent chance that one of their players will win the annual award. The Liverpool trio join Yaya Toure, Eden Hazard, and Adam Lallana on the six-man list.

Suarez, Sturridge, and Gerrard have combined to score 62 of Liverpool’s 93 goals in the EPL. Suarez is tops of the scoring charts with 29 goals scored.

Sturridge and Hazard have also been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, along with Raheem Sterling, Aaron Ramsey, Ross Barkley, and Luke Shaw.

QUICK KICKS

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke will visit Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Fortaleza, and Cuiaba from April 22-24 to meet local officials and the stadiums in each of those host cities. (REPORT)

Record Tottenham signing Erik Lamela is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a recurring back problem, likely ruling him out of representing Argentina at the World Cup. (REPORT)

Manchester City have opened up talks with Edin Dzeko over a new contract. (REPORT)

Inter Milan owner Erick Thohir has scheduled a meeting with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on April 24 to negotiate for Madrid forward Alvaro Morata. (REPORT)

Holland and Ajax legend Marco Van Basten has reached an agreement to take over as head coach of AZ Alkmaar. (REPORT)

Club Tijuana, their head coach Cesar Farias, and defender Hernan Pellerano have all been fined by CONCACAF in addition to a six-match ban to Pellerano for their actions in an incident in their CONCACAF Champions League second-leg match against Cruz Azul. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Barcelona winning the La Liga title without Neymar’s help in the lineup? Think that Bayern should rest their players for the Real Madrid match? Do you think a Liverpool player could win PFA Player of the Year?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Neymar out for 4 weeks; Guardiola ends rotation policy; and more

  1. Kevin_H says:

    “Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, and Daniel Sturridge all made the shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award, giving Liverpool a 50 percent chance that one of their players will win the annual award.”

    Is that an accurate statement? It seems to assume that the winner is decided at random from the six nominees, or at least that they all have an equal chance of winning.

    • William the Terror says:

      Depends upon whether you want to look at it as a matter of statistics or as a matter of odds. Have the bookies posted odds yet?

  2. The Imperative Voice says:

    Neymar’s injury is probably more problematic to Brazil than anyone else.

  3. slowleftarm says:

    I’ve been baffled by the apparent dismay by Bayern’s upper management at losing a few meaningless games. Who cares?

  4. TomM says:

    I loved van Basten as a player- not sure how he’ll do as a coach, but if AJ sticks around this could be excellent for his development.

    • William the Terror says:

      +1

    • John says:

      This is his 5th coaching gig.

      • TomM says:

        It is- and he’s been only marginally successful, hence my question as to how successful he’ll be with AZ. But my point is- he was a striker, and considered by the Dutch to be one of the all time greats even though his career was cut short. I’m hoping this improves AJ’s game.

  5. Increase says:

    Williams got subbed off in the 55th. Reading are getting hammed. I didn’t watch but… I bet that injury isn’t quite gone yet.