The Argentinian was hurt by a crunching tackle from Manu Trigueros which left Messi clutching his leg in obvious pain on the turf. Trigueros was shown a straight red card for the tackle at the 65-minute mark, leaving Villarreal to finish the game with 10 men.
Messi was also clattered again 10 minutes later by defender Pau Torres after going on a trademark run down the right flank. The Villarreal defender was handed a yellow card after appearing to catch the Barcelona captain with a flailing arm.
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Outpouring of Concern for Messi on Social Media
Fortunately for Barcelona, Messi was able to finish the game, but there was an outpouring of concern for the 33-year-old on social media during the match.
While Messi was applauded for continuing to play, some onlookers were uneasy about the superstar feeling more pain later in the match or possibly causing more damage to his ankle.
Dermot Corrigan of The Athletic UK also noted that referees have been quick to address similar “follow through” injuries recently.
Barcelona will certainly hope Messi escaped unscathed from the tackle with more games coming thick and fast for the Catalan giants. Ronald Koeman’s side plays again on Thursday, April 29 against Granada at the Camp Nou.
Messi has once again been an inspirational figure for Barca this season. The 33-year-old has made 44 appearances in all competitions, scoring 33 times. The Argentine is also the leading goalscorer in La Liga with 25 goals, four clear of nearest challenger Karim Benzema.
Messi was not on target against Villarreal with Antoine Griezmann coming up with both of the team’s goals. The first was a lovely chip over the goalkeeper, while the second came after a poor backpass from Juan Foyth.
The World Cup winner now has 18 goals for the season in all competitions and has been in particularly strong form since the start of January. According to Opta, Griezmann has 13 goals and nine assists in all competitions for Barca in 2021.
Barca Keeps Title Hopes Alive
Barca went on to win Sunday’s game 2-1 to keep the club’s title hopes alive. With the victory, Koeman’s side moved even in points with defending champions Real Madrid but, have played one game less than Los Blancos.
Leaders Atletico Madrid can extend their advantage at the top of the table to five points with a win over Athletic Bilbao at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the late kickoff on Sunday.
However, Diego Simeone’s men will also then have played one game more than Barca, meaning the title hopes remain in the Catalan giants’ hands as the two teams still have to meet again in La Liga.
The crunch clash between Atletico and Barcelona is scheduled for May 8 at the Camp Nou and could well decide which of the two clubs end the 2020-21 season as champions of Spain.
Atletico won 1-0 when the teams met in the Spanish capital back in November 2020, but there’s no doubt Koeman’s side has improved since the early months of the campaign. Barca’s current run of form has seen the Catalan giants pick up 46 points from a possible 51 so far in 2021, per Opta.