Barcelona were dealt a massive injury set-back during their draw against Atletico Madrid as Lionel Messi was forced to cut-short his involvement in the game due to a groin strain, ruling him out for 3 weeks.

Lionel Messi suffered a groin strain during Barcelona’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou that forced an early exit from the game for the Argentine. Post-game examinations revealed that the talismanic forward could be out of action for at least three weeks.

A 59th minute Diego Godin tackle left Messi on the ground requiring medical attention. Preliminary on-field examinations confirmed that the 29-year-old could play no further part for the Blaugrana and hence had to be hauled off. He, along with Sergio Busquets, who had also taken a knock, came off for Andre Gomes and Arda Turan and the Catalans conceded through Angel Correa in a matter of minutes.

Messi already missed Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualifier game against Venezuela early on in the month due to his groin strain but nevertheless returned to action to play for Barcelona in the four La Liga matches since. However, the tackle from Godin may just have stretched it once more for the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner as he hobbled off the field.

Will Barcelona and Argentina cope with his absence?

A three-week absence means that Messi could miss the Blaugrana’s visits to Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon in the La Liga and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League. The forward could once again miss Argentina’s World Cup Qualifying matches against Peru and Paraguay during the international break.

Messi is yet to feature for the Albiceleste since reversing his decision to retire from national duty and Edgardo Bauza will be forced once again to look elsewhere to substitute for the attacking prowess and creativity the Barcelona forward brings to his side. Argentina were held to a 2-2 draw against Venezuela, who were rooted to the bottom of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group. With relatively tougher visits to Peru and Paraguay coming up, things will be difficult for Bauza in the absence of Messi.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts injured on the pitch during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on September 21, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 21: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts injured on the pitch during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on September 21, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Having learnt about Messi’s injury after the game, Barcelona’s coach Luis Enrique shared his thoughts, “To lose Messi means that football loses. With Messi we are stronger, but we will continue being strong.” The striker’s absence obviously comes as a big blow for the Catalans given the impact he has had on the pitch for them, having already been involved in 13 goals in just 8 appearances in the on-going campaign.

The Argentine is slated for a return during Pep Guardiola’s return to the Camp Nou with Manchester City in the Champions League, which would be as good a time as any for Luis Enrique to have his talismanic forward back in the mix.

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