An injury that will ignite the club vs country debate as no other.
Spain's midfield maestro might be missing from the World Cup with a tear to his soleus, the calf muscles (along with the gastrocnemius). They help in pushing the foot down (plantarflexion) needed to generate the explosive force needed to walk, run and jump. The muscles are recruited according to knee position. The soleus acts when the knee is bent while the gastrocnemius kicks in when the knee is extended. Think about lunging forward vs standing vertical jumps.
The controversy: Xavi played the Villareal match with a calf tear. It did not seem to slow him down as he provided an assist and a fantastic fee kick to overcome the Yellow Submarines.
After the match, Pep Guardiola very casually dismissed concerns by saying, " He could miss the World Cup because of this injury. He is the best midfielder in the history of this club. He said he knows his body and he wanted to play."
Xavi was confident he would be ready in time for the World Cup. He said, " It hurts a lot but I wanted to be there for the team because they need me. It is not that important and I will ready for South Africa."
With Fernando Torres out for at least 6 weeks with his knee injury, Cesc Fabregas overcoming a fracture of the fibular shaft, and now Xavi with a calf tear, Vincent Del Bosque has injuries to three of his key players. Andres Iniesta is another injury concern. These cannot be dismissed lightly if Spain are to build upon their Euro 2008 legacy.
Group H is one of the safer ones with Honduras, Chile, and Switzerland comprising Spain's competition. However, Spain's recent laurels come after years of chronic underachievement. Their attacking prowess was bolstered with real defensive teeth provided spectacularly by Marcos Senna in Euro 2008. It helped them transition from the also ran to serious world contenders. At this stage Senna has no real successor to fill his big shoes which shifts the onus onto their attacking core. Spain can hardly afford to be so sanguine with injury concerns to those personnel. If Xavi cannot play then they can kiss their chances goodbye.