Barcelona paid a heavy price for their comfortable 2-0 away win over Benfica as they lost captain Carles Puyol with a serious arm injury.
Puyol’s dislocated elbow means Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova faces another unwelcome defensive conundrum for Sunday’s first La Liga ‘Clasico’ of the campaign at home to Real Madrid.
Playing his first game back after a knee injury, Puyol landed heavily after leaping for the ball in the second half of Barca’s 2-0 Champions League Group G victory at Benfica and Vilanova confirmed he would miss the Real clash.
The shaggy-haired 34-year-old, whose regular partner in central defence Gerard Pique has not played since hurting his foot two weeks ago, was taken to a local hospital for checks before flying back to the Catalan capital and spending the night under observation in a clinic.
"Good day! The sun always comes out again... thanks for all your messages! A big hug," he wrote on his Twitter feed.
Barca will sorely miss Puyol's experience and inspirational do-or-die attitude on Sunday.