Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen (right) sustained a hamstring injury against Levante and will not travel to South Africa. Photo: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA

While Mamelodi Sundowns enjoyed a trophy parade on the streets of Pretoria on Monday, Barcelona suffered an injury blow ahead of their big clash against Masandawana at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen picked up a hamstring injury on Sunday night during Barca’s shock 5-4 defeat to Levante, which resulted in their 43-match unbeaten run in La Liga being ended.

Ernesto Valverde’s team were hoping to become the first club ever to go through the league season without a defeat, but they fell short in their penultimate La Liga clash.

Gerard Pique, who was “rested” on the bench, had to replace the 32-year-old Belgian Vermaelen in the 30th minute against Levante.

Star playmaker Lionel Messis didn’t feature at all on the night.

And on Monday, Barcelona announced on their website that Vermaelen – a former Arsenal player – won’t be making the trip to South Africa for the clash that will form part of the Nelson Mandela Centenary celebrations.

“Tests carried out on Monday have confirmed that first team player Thomas Vermaelen has a hamstring injury in his right leg. The player will miss the next match.”

Sundowns, though, appear to have no injury problems, and were cheered on by their supporters around the Tshwane area on Monday as they showed off their Absa Premiership trophy.

And star forward Percy Tau said on a Sundowns Twitter meme: “I’m looking forward to testing myself against the world’s best.”

Barcelona announced on their Twitter account that they will only arrive in South Africa on Wednesday, with the match scheduled to kickoff at 6.15pm.


IOL Sport