Lionel Messi is facing up to two months out after suffering a knee ligament injury in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday.
Messi received a blow to the knee in a tangle with Pedro Bigas just three minutes into the match, and although he initially tried to continue, he was withdrawn six minutes later and taken to hospital.
Tests revealed a torn ligament in his left knee, and Barcelona announced the Argentina international would be out for between seven and eight weeks.
That means Messi could miss the Clasico against Real Madrid on November 22, while he is certain to sit out Barca’s Champions League fixtures with Bayern Leverkusen and BATE Borisov, league games with Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal, plus Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia and Brazil.
“I’m always sad when one of my players gets injured and even more when it’s Messi,” Barca manager Luis Enrique said.
“But we need to accept the challenge and understand that this is part of football and get through it.
“We will not change our style of play without Messi, although there are many moments in games in which Messi liberates us and finds solutions for us, so we’ll have to strengthen in other areas and the team will have to step up without him.”
Barca won the game thanks to goals from Luis Suarez in either half, while Jonathan Viera’s late deflected goal made for a nervy finish for Luis Enrique’s side.
The win briefly moved Barca to the Primera Division summit after Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw by 10-man Malaga at the Bernabeu, but Villarreal finished the day as the new leaders after claiming an impressive 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid courtesy of a goal from Leo Baptistao against his parent club.