Those soccer fans that had next Sunday’s El Clasico match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid circled on their calendar will have to adjust their expectations after Lionel Messi, one of the game’s main attractions, broke his arm in Barcelona’s Saturday match against Sevilla.
Messi will be out three weeks with a fracture in the radial bone of his right arm, according to the team. He suffered the injury in the 17th minute of a 4-2 win, and had scored a goal just five minutes earlier.
The three-week timeline for a return would keep the Barcelona captain out of two big matches: a Champions League tilt against Inter Milan on Wednesday and then Sunday’s Clasico.
The injury occurred when Messi went to the ground on a challenge by Sevilla midfielder Franco Vasquez and his arm got caught underneath him at an awkward angle. Ousmane Dembele came on to replace the 31-year-old.
The win over Sevilla kept Barcelona on top of La Liga with 18 points, but other Spanish teams jockeying for position will look to seize their opportunity with one of the world’s best players sidelined.
Fourteen years into his career with Barcelona, Messi is no stranger to injuries. According to Transfermarkt, he’s had eight that have kept him out longer than three weeks, the longest coming in 2007, when he missed 18 matches with a metatarsal fracture.
Messi has played in 38 Clasicos but will have to wait a bit longer for No. 39. Barcelona faces Real Madrid for a second time on March 3.
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