Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has revealed that midfielder Sergio Busquets was taken ill in the build-up to Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Real Madrid, meaning he had to be dropped from the lineup.
The midfielder was initially named in Valverde's starting lineup, but was surprisingly dropped just moments before kick-off, with Ivan Rakitić coming in in his place.
Speaking to Movistar after the game (via Goal), Valverde admitted that illness was behind his decision to drop Busquets, but the plan was to try and bring him on towards the end of the game.
"It is true that Busquets was feeling bad, he had a fever before the game," Valverde said. "We thought we could have used him in the second half but not in the end. The coach makes the decision based on what he sees."
However, things do not seem so simple. Before the game, assistant manager Jon Aspiazu revealed (via the Daily Mail) that Busquets was never supposed to start the match, and it was simply a mistake to include him.
"It was a misunderstanding at the moment of communicating the team news," he said. "He is okay and that's why he is on the bench."
AS go on to suggest otherwise, claiming that the whole situation might actually have been some gamesmanship on Barcelona's behalf.
Busquets was forced to speak to Valverde shortly before the game to inform him that he was feeling dizzy and weak, which is said to have been when the decision was made to replace the midfielder with Rakitić.
Barcelona did not want Real to know the real reason behind his absence, in the hope that they would believe he would come on later in the match, but media reports ended up revealing the truth.
Busquets himself is said to have told Real players of his illness, meaning Barcelona again changed tack and admitted that the midfielder was unwell.
He was sent to warm up ahead of a possible late cameo, but again felt too unwell to continue and was forced to return to the bench to watch his side play out an eventful 0-0 draw.
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