Champions League: Boost for Celtic as Lionel Messi is ruled out of tie for Barcelona
The Catalan club insist they are more than a one-man team
Despite Lionel Messi suffering a thigh injury that has ruled him out for up to three weeks, Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has claimed that the side are not a one-man team, although he has conceded it is a blow to be without the Argentinian for the Champions League trip to Celtic.
Messi picked up the injury during the 2-0 La Liga victory over Almeria on Saturday, limping out of the affair eight minutes after he opened the scoring on the 21-minute mark. The Ballon d’Or holder was replaced by Xavi, and the Catalans went on to set a club record of seven successive league win at the beginning of their campaign.
Messi has been at his usual lethal best during the run, scoring eleven goals in seven appearances in all competitions, and his loss is a major setback to manager Gerardo Martino as he looks to keep the reigning champions top of the Primera Division.
But Zubizarreta does not want Messi’s absence to have an effect on the club’s run of form, with the club signing Brazilian star Neymar for £48m in the summer.
"He's a very difficult player to replace," Zubizarreta told reporters ahead of Barcelona’s flight to Glasgow.
"We must do without the best player in the world, but we have a squad with extraordinary players. The players who are here are very good and we have to play with what we have."
Celtic earned a famous victory over their upcoming opponents in last season’s European campaign, when goals from Victor Wanyama – now at Southampton – and Tony Watt saw off a late consolation from Messi and send the watching Celtic Park crowd into fits of celebration.
Zubizarreta has admitted that he is looking forward to the atmosphere that the fans and the stadium brings to the tournament, but has also claimed that the Spanish club are not thinking about revenge ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
"It's always a pleasure to play at Celtic Park," he said.
"We're expecting a great atmosphere against an opponent who made things very difficult for us last year.
"They showed they knew how to play and knew how to beat us. They are very strong on their ground and they look to play with a lot of pressure.
"We know how we must play. Revenge? No. We're going there to enjoy this game, this atmosphere. We'll see what happens."
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