Barcelona's Gerard Pique Doubtful for El Clasico After Ankle Injury vs. Napoli

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2020

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 25: Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona at Stadio San Paolo on February 25, 2020 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Gerard Pique's fitness is in doubt for Barcelona's trip to Real Madrid on Sunday after he suffered an ankle injury in their 1-1 draw with Napoli in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. 

Per AS' Robbie Dunne, the defender had to be substituted in added time against the Partenopei after an awkward fall. Despite being in the final minutes of the match Pique "immediately" reached out to the Barca dugout and was replaced by Clement Lenglet.

As football writer Dermot Corrigan observed, the injury appeared painful:

He did not need crutches or a protective boot to leave the Stadio San Paolo, though:

Per Marca's R. Aldunate (h/t Football Espana's Colin Millar), manager Quique Setien said ahead of the Clasico: "We will look for solutions, but the Pique thing is a problem."

Meanwhile, the centre-back's team-mate, Sergio Busquets, said he hopes "Pique's thing is nothing," per Sport.

After the Blaugrana loaned Jean-Clair Todibo to Schalke in January, the club only have three senior centre-backs to see them through the remainder of the season.

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If Pique is unable to feature against Real Madrid, Setien can still turn to Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti, but if anything were to happen to either of them, he may be forced to use Busquets as an emergency defender.

Per Transfermarkt, the Spaniard has been used in such a role on 19 occasions over the course of his Barcelona career, but he wouldn't be as effective as a natural defender and moving there would deprive the team of his presence in midfield.

A victory for Barcelona on Sunday would be a significant step in La Liga's title race. The Catalan side are two points ahead of Real, so the opportunity is there to open up some breathing room.

It would also give them the advantage in their head-to-head record, as the pair played out a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou.