We already knew, of course, that Cristiano Ronaldo would not be competing in El Clasico the match up between Barcelona and Real Madrid after his summer move to Juventus. But now Lionel Messi, the greatest player of his generation has been ruled out of the clash after fracturing his arm against Sevilla.
First it was the fans to gasp when Messi went down in pain, then it was the stats people, pundits followed and it quickly became known that Barcelona’s next game in the league is against Real Madrid, the super tie in world football. Next it was the television guys to cry. Still reeling that Real Madrid can only serve up Gareth Bale as a game changer, now they have lost Messi. Of course Bale is a superb player, arguably the greatest British player of all time and certainly of a generation, but still he’s not next level, which is shared by Ronaldo and Messi.
The news that Messi will miss 3 weeks which most probably will only be two just sets a huge damp squib of epic proportions on next weeks game. TV will certainly lose viewing figures though they are set to still have their highest of the season so far, they will be working overtime to create ads and promos and try to lure in more viewers, but that’s hard when the main ingredients are not there.
For hardcore fans of Spanish football though this game could be very interesting. Some will believe that the playing field will be level now and Real Madrid losing again at the weekend has put huge pressure on them and coach Julen Lopetegui who has got off to a nightmare start with the Champions League champions. His job is reported to be on the line after just 4 months in charge and a defeat against Barcelona could signal the end of his short tenure.
But back to the fans, the viewing ones at least who will still feel some excitement here given that they could be glimpsing a little into the future with no Messi in the team in such a high profile match, because of course only injury would otherwise keep him out.
For the ones that will be travelling far and wide to come here for a match that can cost upwards of 500 euros to witness live it’s a c’est la vie moment. What is undeniably true and can’t be ignored is that this game has had the shine taken off it.