Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Injury-hit Messi enduring most painful start to a season in his career

The Argentine star is struggling to get fit this campaign as the Catalans stumble in his absence
What will Barcelona look like without Lionel Messi? Ernesto Valverde is getting an early glimpse into that scary reality this season as the club's superstar faces a concerning battle for fitness.

For the first time since 2009, Messi began the season watching on from the sidelines with the 32-year-old ruled out of the Blaugrana's first four games with a foot injury. Never before has he been absent for so long at the outset of a season. 

In the absence of their key attacker, Barca started their campaign with a shock 1-0 loss to Athletic Club and dropped further points in La Liga a fortnight later in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna. ..

As the Catalans looked to make amends for their disastrous Champions League exit last season, Valverde brought Messi back as a substitute in their group opener against Borussia Dortmund, which ultimately ended goalless. 

Another cameo against Granada in the league would follow before Messi was handed his first start of the season against Villarreal. 

After setting up Antoine Griezmann for the opening goal after just six minutes, Messi required treatment off the pitch for a thigh complaint in the 28th minute and, after struggling through the remainder of the first half, was replaced at the interval by Ousmane Dembele. 


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