Another significant injury for Barcelona, this time to Superstar striker Lionel Messi could mean the club will fail to win another Champions League Title.
Messi had to be substituted at halftime on Tuesday after suffering a right hamstring injury in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against PSG.
Messi scored in the 38th minute to put Barca up 1-0 (bring his scoring total to 57 goals and 13 assists for the season so far). After last weekend, Messi became the first footballer to score against every club he has played scoring 19 consecutive goals in La Liga and Champions League play.
After, Tuesday’s injury Barcelona’s official Twitter page reported ''Messi sustained an injury to his right hamstring.” He underwent further tests on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury. Now the club has reported the extent of his injury is not as severe as initially thought.
According to the Guardian, Messi’s injury should only keep him off the pitch for about seven to 10 days (instead of three weeks as previously thought).
According to Barcelona’s medical staff, he will miss this weekend’s game against Mallorca, and his availability next Tuesday for the second leg against PSG at Camp Nou is up in the air.
Of course Barcelona organization, players, and fans are saying all the right things. They want us to believe the team will weather the storm in Messi’s absence. They believe Messi’s injury could bring other players along and help Barcelona improve as a team.
According to defender Daniel Alves “The fact that we don't have him is an incentive to prove to everyone that we have enough quality to compete without him and show that we can do it just as well as when he's here.”
Forget all that. Here are the realities:
If there is only one indispensable player it is Lionel Messi. Messi joined the exclusive fraternity alongside Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Galatasary’s Buka Yilmaza as the league’s scoring leaders with eight goals in Champions League. The closest goal scorers of any of his teammates is left back Jordi Alba’s.
Of Barca’s supposedly balanced attack—strikers David Villa, Pedro, and Alexis Sanchez; and attacking midfielder Cesc Fabregas have scored just three goals between them in Europe (trailing far behind ever Champions League leading scorers the last four seasons.
Sanchez clearly lacks confidence. David Villa is not consistent—and he is not the same player he was prior to breaking his leg back in December 2011. Fabregas and Pedro still haven’t found their form in Champions League this season.
Cristian Tello may be called upon this weekend and Tuesday if Messi is still out—but he is young, very rarely used and can be erratic at times (he only has one goal in Champions League this season).
There is a huge void in the defense as Argentina’s defender Javier Mascherano had to be taken off on a stretcher with a torn ligament in his knee; so it maybe several weeks or even months before his return.
Said Barca coach Tito Vilanova "We are having a lot of bad luck in defense, with Carles Puyol and Adriano Correia already out, and now this."
To compound the problem even more, Barca doesn’t have a specialist centre-back. Javier Mascherano who plays centre-back is a converted midfielder.
Puyol, now 34, is still recovering from knee surgery and it will be asking a lot of him to be game ready come next Tuesday. The club does have the young-versatile Marc Bartra, 22, but he lacks experience as he too is rarely used.
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