During half time of Barcelona’s win over Athletic Club, Arda Turan came out to warm up. Then at the beginning of the second period he was brought on. The player he replaced was Lionel Messi, which set alarm bells ringing.
Several minutes after the beginning of the second half it became known that Messi had remained in the dressing room as a precaution. It transpires he had felt a small pain the hamstring in his right leg and didn’t want to risk injury.
Luis Enrique confirmed: “We will do some tests [on Messi], but it was just a slight discomfort. We spoke about it and we did not want to take risks. I don’t do that [take risks] with any players, even less with Messi.”
Messi played the first 45 minutes of the game, though, opening the scoring from the penalty spot after Gorka Iraizoz had fouled Luis Suarez. The Argentine sent the ball into bottom right corner and although substitute goalkeeper Iago Herrerin guessed the right way, he couldn’t keep it out.
Before the match a giant banner had been unveiled in honour of Messi’s fifth Ballon d’Or, which he was awarded in Zurich last Monday. He also paraded the trophy on the pitch ahead of the game.