Lionel Messi was taken off at halftime during Sunday’s contest against Athletic Bilbao, after picking up a “small strain” according to his head coach.
Last Monday Lionel Messi was named the 2015 Ballon d’Or winner for the fifth time in his career, but on Sunday he would have to be taken off prematurely against Athletic Bilbao. According to his head coach, Luis Enrique, the 28-year-old suffered a “small strain.”
“Messi will have tests tomorrow, he has a small strain and had a little discomfort so we preferred not to take any risks,” Luis Enrique said in a news conference following the match, via ESPN.
“We spoke about it at half-time and with the scoreline as it was we did not want to take risks. I don’t like taking risks with any player, so imagine what it’s like with Messi.”
Messi opened the scoring at the Camp Nou in the seventh minute of the match, when he beat Athletic Club backup goalkeeper, Iago Herrerin, from the spot. The visitor’s starting goalkeeper, Gorka Moreno, had been sent off for a foul on Luis Suarez.
The Blaugrana went on to ultimately win the game 6-0, with Suarez contributing a second half hat trick to the cause. The win helped Barcelona keep pace with Atletico Madrid, who remain two points clear atop the La Liga table in a race that looks destined to go down to the wire.
Fans across the globe will be eagerly anticipating the results of Messi’s tests tomorrow, with supporters of Barcelona aware of how important he is to their club. Barcelona will take on Athletic Bilbao again on Wednesday, but this time it will be in Copa del Rey action. Even if Messi is cleared to play though, don’t expect Enrique to risk the diminutive Argentinian.
Messi missed five games earlier this year with a knee injury, and Barcelona will be taking no chances with their star striker.