Messi injury gives Barca and Dembele chance to prove their worth

Barcelona’s lowest ebbs are invariably followed by questions about Lionel Messi but the issue of over-reliance may become clearer over the coming weeks.

The sight of Messi on the ground, grasping his right arm, during Barca’s win over Sevilla on Saturday prompted reactions inside Camp Nou normally reserved for the conceding of goals.

Hands behind heads, fingers over mouths, the concern became real shortly after the final whistle when the club confirmed Messi had fractured his radial bone.

His absence leaves Barca vulnerable when they need him most, for a run of fixtures that includes Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Clasico against Real Madrid on Sunday, before a return match against Inter in Italy at the start of next month.

If he takes longer than expected to recover, he could miss tricky games against Real Betis and Atletico Madrid in La Liga too.

Barcelona have grown used to accusations of dependence, not least when results have taken a turn for the worse.

When Ernesto Valverde left Messi on the bench for the 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao last month, the argument was given added weight by him coming on and making the assist for their equaliser.

“This is Barcelona,” Messi afterwards. “We have a strong team and we have enough not to have to depend on one player.”

The same point was raised last season, when Messi, as a substitute, inspired a late fight-back from two goals down against Sevilla and scored in the 89th minute.

He played the entirety of the Champions League collapse against Roma but then the criticism was Barca had failed to find the answer when Messi had not provided it.

There is no team in the world that would not look worse with Messi extracted.

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This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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