Lionel Messi injury: Can Barcelona cope without the Argentina international?
With Barcelona already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League and facing an easier La Liga run of games, Messi's hamstring injury could be a blessing in disguise
Monday 11 November 2013
Barcelona will be without the talismanic Lionel Messi until January 2014 after the forward was ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a hamstring strain that he picked up early on during the 4-1 victory over Real Betis on Sunday.
There were already concerns over Messi’s recent performances, having gone five La Liga games since he last scored – his worst run in the Spanish top flight for nearly six years after he went eight games without scoring between December 1 2007 and February 24 2008.
His phenomenal goal record over recent years has seen Barcelona cement their place as a European powerhouse to be feared, although they were given a firm setback last season when Bayern Munich dispatched them 7-0 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-finals. Messi wasn’t fully fit for either leg, and it showed as the Catalan side looked to be missing any sense of direction in the way they played.
So how influential has he been in 2013? If you take a look at the stats, they should get by just fine without him. Astonishingly, Barcelona have won every single game in 2013 that they have played without Messi, having played and won nine times this year without the 26-year-old.
With him in the side, that figure drops rather dramatically to 61.9 per cent - winning 26 out of 42 competitive matches this season – in which he has scores 39 goals along the way. In comparison, Messi had notched 79 goals for his club in the whole of 2012, whereas he will end this calendar year with 45 goals, a drop of over half of his 91 total goals the year before.
With Messi ruled out for up to two months, Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino will need to turn to Plan B in the hope that they don’t relinquish their unbeaten start to the season. They won’t have to worry about the immediate future though with the international break set to take centre stage, and return to action on November 23 when they take on Granada.
They then face their final two Champions League group matches against Ajax and Celtic, with a La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao and the Copa Del Rey tie with Cartagena sandwiched in-between. With the Spanish league champions already qualified from Group H, and Martino likely to deploy a fringe and youth side in the cup, these games will not pose too much of a problem in terms of competing without Messi.
They then face a rather simple schedule that sees them take on Villarreal, Cartagena again and Getafe before the winter break kicks in, and Messi will be targeting a return in the first game of the New Year when Barcelona host Elche on January 4.
Even without Messi, Martino will be expectant of his side to at least remain unbeaten through those matches, and having the addition of Neymar this season should ensure that any issues caused by Messi’s absence are minimalised thanks to the Brazilian star.
Latest in Sport
Ben Stokes and the strangest injuries in sport
Daniel Sturridge reveals Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is 'very demanding'
Michael Schumacher: Sebastian Vettel pays tribute to F1 legend with special helmet for Australian Grand Prix
Manchester United v Liverpool: How will rivals handle European role reversal?
Nicholas Anelka sacked by West Bromwich Albion: Parting is such tweet sorrow for French striker
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Sailor who kissed a nurse in famous WWII photograph dies aged 86
- 3 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'