MADRID – Lionel Messi damaged right ankle ligaments during a challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi in Barcelona's 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, and the reigning FIFA player of the year is set for more tests to determine the severity of the injury.
Barcelona said initial tests ruled out a break after Ujfalusi caught Messi's ankle as the Argentine forward sped up field at full speed during injury time. Ujfalusi was ejected for the tackle, and initial reports suggested Messi could miss two weeks
Messi held his hands over his head as he was stretchered off the field at Vicente Calderon Stadium, with his ankle swollen.
Coach Pep Guardiola says Messi "is sad" but "now we can only wait on the diagnosis and help him recover."
"If he left the field it's because he isn't well. Tomorrow we'll do tests," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "The doctors will tell us how he is. He's sad, red-eyed. But these things happen. Now we can only wait on the prognosis and help him recover."
Guardiola also criticized Ujfalusi's tackle, which earned the Czech defender a straight red.
"I think the images speak for themselves," Guardiola said. "Messi is very honest. He's the most honest player I know. He just wants to play."
Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores said Ujfalusi was anxious to apologize to Messi, who has been largely injury free the last two seasons. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of his arrival to Barcelona, the 23-year-old Messi scored the opening goal for Barcelona in the 13th minute.
Messi scored 47 goals for Barcelona last season and has seven in six games this season.
"We'll see how long he's out, until then we can only hope," Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes said as Messi hobbled by to the team bus, using crutches.