LIONEL Messi will be out for two months at least after tearing a ligament in his left knee and that spells big problems for Barcelona who rely so heavily on their little magician.
Brave as a lion and invariably kicked from pillar to post wherever he goes, Messi has been like a rubber ball over the years – always bouncing back, despite all the rough-house treatment he gets.
Not this time it would seem as Messi was injured in the third minute of the match against Las Palmas which Barca won 2-1 and was taken to hospital.
At best he could return to face Real Madrid
on 22 November, but the chances are he will still be missing and, it goes without saying, that Barcelona do not have a ready-made replacement.
How do you replace the best player on the planet? Simple is, you don’t. So maybe Barca are going to have to change the approach slightly until the great man returns.
“I’m always sad when one of my players gets injured and even more when it’s Messi,” coach Luis Enrique told journalists immediately after the game, his comments reported this morning on the BBC sports web site..
But the Barca coach insisted: “We will not change our style of play without Messi
, although there are many moments in games in which Messi liberates us and finds solutions for us, so we’ll have to strengthen in other areas and the team will have to step up without him.”
In Messi’s absence, Luis Suarez scored twice as the champions beat Las Palmas to briefly return to the top of La Liga as Real Madrid failed to overtake the Catalan side when they could only draw against struggling Malaga at the Bernabeu.
Villarreal are now above both teams with a 1-0 home win against 2014 champions Atletico Madrid.
Suarez rose superbly to head in Sergi Roberto’s cross and doubled the lead when he powerfully converted at the far post following Sergio Busquets’s dummy.
Barca still have plenty of fire power in their ranks but given the loss of the world’s greatest player they might now regret the loss of Pedro to Chelsea.
Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score for the third successive match as Real Madrid were held by 10-man Malaga to lose top spot in La Liga.
The Portugal striker needs only three goals to pass Raul’s mark of 323 to become the club’s record goalscorer.
But though Real dominated, he was unable to find the net, heading over Marcelo’s cross in added time.