Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists his side can cope with the loss of Lionel Messi after the star forward was ruled out of next week’s Clasico with a fracture in his arm.
Messi will be sidelined for around three weeks, including the crunch clash with Real Madrid next Sunday, after falling awkwardly in the first half of Saturday’s 4-2 win over Sevilla which sent Barcelona back to the top of LaLiga.
A Barcelona statement said: “Tests carried out on the first team player Leo Messi have confirmed that he has a fracture of the radial bone in his right arm. He will be out for approximately three weeks.”
Messi had set up Philippe Coutinho’s opener before scoring himself 12 minutes in to Saturday’s match, but went off midway through the first half with the injury.
He is now set to miss two Champions League games against Inter Milan as well as the Clasico and LaLiga games against Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis.
“We know what he gives to us and what the opponents think when they see Leo on the field,” Valverde said at a press conference.
“We must prepare ourselves and have the resources to cope without him, even if these are tough games.
Messi’s team-mates also insisted they would be able to cope without their talisman.
“Messi’s injury does not have to affect us mentally,” Gerard Pique said. “We have a host of forwards who can lead the games for us.”
Clement Lenglet added: “We can score without Leo, as we have shown tonight.”
After Messi’s exit, Luis Suarez added to Barcelona’s lead from the penalty spot before a frantic finish which saw Pablo Sarabia pull a goal back for Sevilla, Ivan Rakitic volley in a fourth Barca goal and Luis Muriel score a stoppage-time consolation for the visitors.
In between all of that, Marc-Andre ter Stegen made two outstanding double saves to ensure Sevilla did not get themselves back into the game.
“It was a difficult end to the game for us with the goals they scored,” Valverde said. “It is rare to see two double saves like this in the same game.”
The victory saw Barcelona end a run of four domestic games without victory, and capitalise on defeat earlier in the day for Madrid. Valverde’s side return to the top of LaLiga, one point clear of Alaves and two ahead of Sevilla.