Saturday was a tough day for fans of Barcelona, Argentina, and in fact, all football fans (bar the insufferable Real Madrid fans) around the world.
Lionel Messi was injured in a collision in the third minute of Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas, and had to leave the match in the 10th minute of play, with a suspected knee injury. He was taken to the hospital for further scans, which revealed a tear of the internal collateral ligament, leaving the favorite for the Ballon D’or out for up to two months.
It also leaves the defending UEFA Champions League, and La Liga, champions shorthanded. as the club in still under a transfer embargo, for signing underage players.
“It is always sad when a player is injured. In the case of Messi it is not necessary for me to say what we all know that he is very important to the team,” Barcelona manager Enrique said.
“Without Messi we lose a lot of things from our style of play that we will now have to rearrange collectively but I have no doubt that we will overcome this. This team will cope fine and will deal with this. It is capable of doing so well because it has personality and courage. It can be seen as a test and a stimulus.”
Luis Suarez, a fellow candidate recently for the UEFA Player of the Year award that was won by Messi, and Neymar should be able to pick up some of the slack, but the Spanish side will have to make-do throughout most of their Champions League group stage campaign without the world’s best footballer.
Barcelona has already lost Rafinha to a knee ligament injury this month, and may have to change shape to deal with the loss of Messi, although, according to Jim Walker, who was writing for the UEFA website, it may be just a matter of giving some young players a chance to make names for themselves.
“Loyal to the club’s 4-3-3 philosophy, it is likely the 45-year-old will use Ivan Rakitić in a further advanced position as he did against Atlético Madrid earlier this season,” Walker wrote. “However the beneficiaries of Messi’s misfortune are likely to be Javier Mascherano, who can expect an extended run in the centre of midfield, and young attacking duo Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramírez.”
“The 20-year-olds both burst onto the scene at the beginning of last season – Munir earning a cap for Spain in the process – and were both given first team squad numbers ahead of this campaign by Enrique. They now have their chance to impress the coach and show that whenever one of the fabled front three of Messi, Neymar or Luis Suárez are not around they are more than capable of filling the void.”