Lionel Messi limped out of Barcelona’s record-breaking 2-0 win at Almeria last night, sparking fears that he could struggle to be fit for the Champions League clash with Celtic in Glasgow on Tuesday.
Messi, the world player of the year, got the opening goal after 21 minutes with a wonderful solo effort but was forced to leave the pitch soon afterwards with a hamstring problem in his right leg.
The victory made it seven wins out of seven in La Liga for Barca, setting a club record for the best start to a Spanish league campaign.
Barcelona defender Adriano scored the second goal and is keeping his fingers crossed the injury Messi picked up is nothing serious, admitting that the Spanish champions are a different proposition with the Argentina forward in their line-up.
Messi was replaced soon after his 11th goal of the season in all competitions, with Barca subsequently confirming he had suffered an injury to his right thigh.
He will undergo further tests today to determine the extent of the problem and for how long he might be out. Barca will travel to Scotland tomorrow to prepare for the Champions League Group H clash at Celtic Park.
Adriano said: “Hopefully it’s nothing and he’s with us for the coming games because he’s a very important player. With him, it’s a different team.”
Barca coach Gerardo Martino added of Messi’s injury: “Apparently Messi picked up a small muscle strain in the back of his right leg when he scored. It’s hard to say anything else until he undergoes additional tests.”
For his goal, Messi picked up the ball from a short corner on the right and ran across the edge of the penalty area. He played a one-two with Pedro and curled a left-foot shot in off the far post.
He asked to be substituted and was replaced by Xavi in the 29th minute and Barcelona said they would carry out tests today to determine the extent of the injury, although the forward did not seem unduly concerned as he remained in the dugout to watch the remainder of the game.
Barca’s Brazilian striker Neymar was left on the bench at Almeria.