Messi faces rare spell on the sidelines.. but Barcelona are better off in Europe without their star man!
10:17 GMT, 3 April 2013
15:15 GMT, 3 April 2013
It's a sight that has been thankfully rare over the years for Barcelona fans and the millions who appreciate his genius.
But Lionel Messi is facing a spell on the sidelines of up to three weeks after being substituted at half-time during last night's Champions League tie in Paris with a hamstring injury.
The club have confirmed that he has a thigh injury and will miss Saturday's match at home to Real Mallorca at the very least. Messi even took to his Facebook page to confirm his knock isn't as bad as first feared.
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Allaying fears: Messi posted this picture on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, saying his hamstring injury was not as serious as first thought
Check up: Messi is accompanied by defender Jordi Alba as he walks to the medical centre at Barcelona's training ground. Initial scans on his hamstring injury suggest the damage isn't as bad as first feared
Rare injury blow: Lionel Messi (second left) watched the second half of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with PSG after suffering a hamstring injury
Deadly: Before going off, Messi opened the scoring with his 57th goal of the season
Goals scored in brackets
2004-2005: 9 (1)
2005-2006: 25 (8)
2006-2007: 36 (17)
2007-2008: 40 (16)
2008-2009: 51 (38)
2009-2010: 53 (47)
2010-2011: 55 (53)
2011-2012: 60 (73)
2012-2013: 45 (57)
Depending on his recovery, it could also
see him absent from the return with PSG next week and subsequent La
Liga matches that will see Barca secure the title.
For someone who is always target No 1 for brutish defenders, Lionel Messi is astonishingly resilient.
His untouchable scoring record and long list of accolades are testament not only to his brilliance but a good injury record.
In fact this season, the 25-year-old has played 3,193 of a possible 3,420 minutes in the league and Champions League – meaning he's missed just 227 minutes of action in these competitions.
Representing a club inevitably involved to the business end of competitions, Messi is used to playing in excess of 50 matches a season for Barcelona and up to a dozen more for Argentina.
Whereas other star players, particularly in the Premier League, are rested or rotated for less important games, Messi is as likely to start against Granada and Getafe than he is against Real Madrid.
But the physical toll rarely shows on his body, with the Argentine suffering only four injury lay-offs of note over his career.
Concern: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova talks to Messi during last night's quarter-final, first leg
Bloodied: Messi took a knock to the knee, which led to him being taken off at half-time
Pain: Messi grabs the back of his right leg during the match at the Parc des Princes
Before last night, he had not had a muscle injury for three-and-a-half years, when a calf problem ruled him out of a Champions League tie with Inter Milan and a league Clasico with Real in November 2009.
He was an unused substitute in the Inter tie as Pep Guardiola decided not to risk him.
He missed league games against Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao in September 2010 with a stretched ligament, but returned for a trip to Russia to play Rubin Kazan the following week.
Prior to that, you have to go back to the 2007-2008 season when a 20-year-old Messi missed about 10 weeks of the season with a couple of injury scares.
While Barcelona's quarter-final tie with PSG is delicately poised at 2-2, Messi's team-mates won't be too concerned by his absence.
The statistics show that, in Champions League games since Messi broke into the first team in 2004, they have won 71 per cent of matches without him and just 56 per cent of games when he's been rested or injured.
This is probably explained by Barcelona's run to the trophy in 2006, when Messi played just six of the club's 13 games.
Golden Balls: Messi, four time Ballon D'Or winner, shakes hands with David Beckham before the match
By contrast, in La Liga, Barcelona have won 76 per cent of games since 2004 with him in the team.
But when Messi is absent, they have won only half.
The injury will bring to an end his record run of scoring in 19 consecutive league games. His first-half goal against PSG also drew him level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz as top scorer in the Champions League with eight goals.
In addition, defender Javier Mascherano was taken off on a stretcher after 84 minutes with a knee injury and will be missing for 'four to six weeks' according to Barca coach Jordi Roura.
Injury worry: Messi's compatriot Javier Mascherano was stretchered off late in the game
Messi's absence turns the spotlight on Barcelona's misfiring strike force.
Spain's David Villa and Pedro, Chile's Alexis Sanchez, and midfielder-cum-forward Cesc Fabregas have managed only three goals between them in Europe, trailing way behind Messi, the Champions League's leading scorer for the the last four seasons in a row.
Sanchez is clearly lacking in confidence, as was seen with two poorly-taken chances on Tuesday, though he did win the penalty for Xavi to put Barca 2-1 up near the end.
Misfiring: Barcelona will rely on the out-of-form Alexis Sanchez for the second leg next week
Villa has failed to recover his consistency and sharpness since breaking his leg at the Club World Cup in December 2011, and Fabregas has been short of form in recent weeks.
Pedro, who was suspended on Tuesday, should have recovered from a calf injury for the second leg, but has yet to get off the mark in the Champions League this season.
Cristian Tello is another option. The little-used, young winger scored one and set up the second for Messi in their 2-2 draw at Real Zaragoza in La Liga last Saturday, and brings a directness and pace to an attack that at times lacks a cutting edge.
He has scored one goal in the Champions League this season.
Beckham pleased with draw against Barcelona
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