Lionel Messi in a FC Barcelona jersey
File photo of Lionel Messi

“Sometimes football is so beautiful and when you least expect it a ball like that comes to your feet and goes into the net,” 38-year old Artiz Aduriz told reporters after he had scored a stunning scorpion kick to upset Barcelona in the 2019-20 LaLiga opener.

But it was nowhere close to beautiful for Barcelona. Not a whole lot because they had lost the match, but more so because winning wasn’t going to get easier.

“We’re used to having (Lionel) Messi solve problems for us but we have to perform when he’s not there,” is what Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde had to say after the Spanish Champions suffered a setback in its opening LaLiga match against Athletic Bilbao.

The problems only seems to have escalated after ahead of the second match. Luis Suarez, who limped off the San Mamés, is set to miss the at least one match. Osumane Dembele, who played the whole match, was announced to be injured, the only a day ago.

“We’ve done it in the past. It’s inevitable we’re going to miss him (Messi), but we have to look at other things, too,” Valverde continued.

For him now, missing Lionel Messi is not only inevitable, but he is also set to miss two other attackers- Luis Suarez and Osumane Dembele. The chances of Messi returning seems to have created a false hope for Barcelona, because it might be risky to involve the Argentine so early in the season.

If ahead of Real Betis match, the squad of Barcelona is to be seen, how many fit players tagged as forwards can be found? Probably only two if Lionel Messi is considered as fit. But that is again a big doubt.

In case of Messi’s absence, the whole attack will virtually rest on Antoine Griezmann, who is still trying to find his feet at a club which was, until a few months back, a title-rival to him. Even if Messi plays, is he fit enough to play the 90 minutes? Will he be able to carry his team once again?

Philippe Coutinho, who was considered surplus until not long ago, would certainly have been most welcome at this hour. But he is now far away from Barcelona, at Munich.

“Suarez had a problem with his calf and we will have to wait and see what the tests say,” the Barcelona manger said. “Osumane Dembele has been diagnosed with a strain to his left hamstring, and is set to miss the next five weeks with the injury,” Barcelona tweeted. Messi is already injured, however minor it may seem.

Valverde quoted to have missed Suarez as soon as he left the pitch against Bilbao.  “We were in and around Athletic’s box in the second half and we missed him,” he said.

Next up for Barcelona is a home match against Real Betis. Probably the only thing they can take positively. They would be relieved it is Real Betis in the second Game week of the season and not Real Madrid towards the business end.

They would feel, despite all the concerns, they can still get past Real Betis, but how long can they manage? Unless their attackers can make quick recoveries, it is looking increasingly worrisome for Barcelona.