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Barcelona lose Mascherano for a month


Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano will be sidelined for a month with a thigh injury he suffered in Argentina’s friendly international against Nigeria, the club said on Wednesday.

Mascherano played the full 90 minutes in his country’s surprise 4-2 loss to the Nigerians in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday.

The absence of the 33-year-old former Liverpool player means coach Ernesto Valverde will have little opportunity to rest his first-choice centre-back pairing of Gerard Pique and French international Samuel Umtiti.

Valverde could be forced to turn to Thomas Vermaelen, who has managed just 90 minutes for Barcelona this season although he has just played back-to-back international matches for Belgium.

Mascherano will miss Barca’s final Champions League group games against Juventus on November 22 and then Sporting Lisbon on December 5.

The club will be hoping he has recovered in time for the clash with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on December 23.

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