Sevilla hit by salmonella poisoning ahead of European Super Cup... Neymar has mumps
Sevilla look likely to have a difficult evening in the European Super Cup as they try to defend against a team containing Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez without a single fit centreback.
A series of injuries had already left the Spanish side weakened ahead of Tuesday night's game against Barcelona but now it is alleged that a barbecue held by some of the players before flying out to Tblisi has left them incapacitated with salmonella poisoning and too ill to even train.
Centre backs Nicolas Pareja and Daniel Carrico are both recovering from injuries and considered unavailable to avoid the risk of causing more damage, while Timothée Kolodziejczak and Adil Rami (also centre backs) were unable to train properly on Monday, having picked up stomach bugs (thought to be salmonella) after a barbecue involving the players and summer signing Steven Nzonzi went very wrong.
A makeshift partnership made out of two of either defensive midfielders Grzegorz Krychowiak (linked with a transfer to Arsenal this summer), Vicente Iborra and Luismi or fullback Coke appears most likely but isn't the most ideal of situations when facing the world's greatest strike force.
Moving players into defence also leaves Sevilla dangerously short of firepower in midfield against Luis Enrique's treble winning superstars.
Manager Unai Emery said (Uefa.com): "We want to see the sparkle in our players' eyes and we've seen that against Barcelona in the past. Barça are going to be better than us in stats, possession etc. So we need to accept that and respond by countering very quickly against them. We have to grasp the opportunities when we have a degree of control.
"The injuries will have an impact but overall you will see what Barcelona can do and you will see what Sevilla can do. We may not be 100% but we'll be close."
One small glimmer of light is that Barcelona are without Neymar, who has contracted mumps and will miss the next two weeks. There are concerns in the Barcelona camp that other players may come down with the contagious disease, which is transmitted via saliva droplets from coughing and sneezing and takes several days to show symptoms.
In 2014 several NHL players came down with mumps when an outbreak of the disease infected players from five different clubs.