Barcelona - Barcelona star Lionel Messi will be sidelined
for the next three weeks due to a groin strain, dealing a huge blow to his club
"To lose Lionel Messi means football loses and we
lose," said Barca boss Luis Enrique.
Messi limped off just before the hour mark of the Spanish
champions' 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
The Argentine captain is set to miss his country's World Cup
qualifiers against Peru and Paraguay next month as well as Barca's Champions
League clash at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Messi will also sit on the Catalans' La Liga trips to
Sporting Gijon and Celta Vigo.
However, Messi should be fit in time for a reunion with old
boss Pep Guardiola when Manchester City visit the Camp Nou on Champions League
duty on October 19.
The five-time World Player of the Year missed Argentina's
World Cup qualifier with Venezuela earlier this month due to the problem and
only started Barca's shock 2-1 defeat to Alaves 10 days ago on the bench as
coach Luis Enrique bedded him back into action gently.
"Now we have to look for other solutions," added
Enrique. "With Leo we are much stronger, but without him we are still a
Barca coped remarkably well with eight wins from 10 games
when Messi was sidelined by a hamstring injury for two months last season.
And Enrique hopes his side can show similar resilience to
avoid slipping further behind Real Madrid in the title race.
"Last year we had an unfortunate situation with a
longer-term injury and my team played well."
Barca remain three points behind Madrid at the top of La
Liga after Angel Correa's equaliser seconds after Messi limped off handed
Atletico a share of the spoils at the Camp Nou.
Ivan Rakitic headed Barca into the lead just before
half-time, but Atletico marshalled Messi's star strike partners Luis Suarez and
Neymar well in his absence to hold out for a point.
Suarez, though, insisted he and the Brazilian can step up as
they did without Messi last season.
"It is a difficult injury that hurts and leaves you
sad," said Suarez. "Now we have to take responsibility."
Suarez was involved in a battle of his own as he was booked
for a clash with Atletico left-back Filipe Luis six minutes from time.
Luis posted a photo of a stud mark piercing his bleeding
foot on his official Instagram page after the match with the message:
"Just as well he didn't touch me."
However, Suarez lambasted Luis for not reacting likewise
when he was sent-off for a brutal challenge on Messi when the sides clashed
back in January.
"This is football, it is a man's game and what happens
on the pitch stays on the pitch," added Suarez.
"You can't make a show of things every time something
happens. Last year he didn't post a picture of Messi. I repeat, football is for