These days, Barcelona simply can't afford to be without Gerard Pique.
The situation is tricky, because the experienced centre-back is overexerting himself and this is costing him his fitness.
He has been playing with discomfort for months and this has forced him to have to stop on occasion, as was seen on Sunday against Real Mallorca, as he had to come off in the first half.
However, Pique's presence on the pitch is the difference between a winning, competitive Barcelona and one that suffers from defensive breakdowns.
At the age of 35, the Catalan has become one of the team's key players. He is one of the four captains of the dressing room and, despite the attention he generates due to his activities away from the pitch, there are few like him when he puts on a Barcelona shirt.
The statistics make clear the theory that Barcelona are a different side when Pique is not in the team.
If we look at what Barcelona's latest setbacks have in common, those three consecutive defeats that left the team out of Europe and without a chance to fight for the LaLiga Santnader title, one name comes to mind: Gerard Pique.
The defender was unable to feature against Eintracht Frankfurt, Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano, and the fans already know how those games ended.
The question now is how Pique will recover from this latest injury. His withdrawal against Mallorca leaves it up in the air with regard to his possible participation in Sunday's crucial match away at Real Betis.
Given Barcelona's numbers, not having Pique in the squad will reduce the team's likelihood of picking up all three points.
For the moment, the players have a break until Wednesday. Perhaps he will be able to do one last service for the season.
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