BARCELONA Lionel Messi will be out of action for three weeks after the Barcelona talisman suffered a groin injury in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid, the Spanish champions said.
The five-times world player of the year limped off in the second half of Barca's La Liga match at the Nou Camp, moments before the visiting side equalised.
"Leo Messi has torn the groin muscle in his right leg. He will be out of action for approximately three weeks," Barcelona officials said in a statement.
Barca's all-time top scorer will miss league fixtures at Sporting Gijon and Celta Vigo as well as the Champions League group game with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
The Argentina captain is also likely to sit out his country's World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Paraguay.
If Messi's recovery goes according to plan, he will return to action for Barca against Deportivo La Coruna on Oct. 15.
"I'm not a doctor and I can't give any information here but when Messi is injured we all lose, football loses," Barca coach Luis Enrique said.
Messi was forced to miss eight weeks last season after injuring his knee but Barca won eight of the 10 games they had to play without their star man, and Luis Enrique said he was not worried about how his side would fare again without the maestro.
"Last year we also had an unfortunate situation but the team kept playing at a high level," the coach added.
"Without Messi we are much less strong but we can still be strong, we hope he improves and we're going to continue as we need to continue, playing with confidence."
Barcelona's midfield anchor Sergio Busquets was also forced off in the second half but Luis Enrique explained the Spain international was merely worn out after recently recovering from illness.
"He's fine, he had the flu and with a game like this he couldn't cope in the end. He gave everything but in the end he ran out of energy," the coach added.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)