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Barca victory tarnished as injured Messi set to miss three weeks

Lionel Messi is expected to be out for three weeks with a fractured right arm but his last contribution was to help send Barcelona back to the top of La Liga on Saturday.

Barca victory tarnished as injured Messi set to miss three weeks
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi receives medical assistance during the match against Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Saturday. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP
Messi scored and then went off injured as Barca beat Sevilla 4-2 at Camp Nou, in a six-goal thriller that never looked like ending in anything other than a home win.
 
Any joy at jumping above in-form Sevilla, however, was tarnished by Messi's injury, which will now rule him out of next weekend's Clasico against Real Madrid.
 
A Barcelona club statement read: “Tests carried out on Leo Messi have confirmed that he has a fracture of the radial bone in his right arm. He will be out for approximately three weeks.”
 
It means Messi will also miss the Champions League match at home to Inter Milan on Wednesday, and probably the return trip to Italy on November 6, as well as league games against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in between.
 
“It is clear it is a blow,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We know what he gives us and we know what he does to the opposition. “We have to prepare ourselves, it is clear we are going to notice the loss of Messi but we have players that can cover.”
 
Messi fell to the ground following a tussle with Sevilla's Franco Vazquez and, as his right hand tried to cushion the landing, his elbow appeared to buckle. Messi was helped off the pitch by medical staff and, despite having his right arm heavily strapped, he was finally substituted in the 26th minute.
 
“Emotionally, we know when he is there, he gives us more confidence because he is the best in the world,” Gerard Pique said. “But it does not have to affect us.”
 
Philippe Coutinho had opened the scoring and Luis Suarez's penalty, which he also earned, made sure of victory before a three-goal flurry in the final 11 minutes. Pablo Sarabia and Luis Muriel twice reduced the deficit to two for Sevilla, either side of a sweeping volley from Ivan Rakitic. 
 
Even without Messi, Barca might be confident of seeing off Madrid, whose slump had continued on Saturday with a 2-1 loss at home to Levante. Barcelona, meanwhile, seem to have sparked a rival.
 
Since drawing at home to Athletic Bilbao last month to make it three games without a win, they have blown Tottenham away at Wembley, taken a point away to Valencia and now eased past Sevilla, who came into the weekend top of the table. 
 
Barca fans had chanted, “don't touch the badge” before kick-off after president Josep Maria Bartomeu had announced plans to change the club crest had been shelved.
 
They were soon celebrating a goal too as Coutinho bent a sumptuous right-footed shot into the far corner with only two minutes on the clock. Messi doubled the advantage, racing clear on the counter-attack before jinking inside and curling into the bottom corner with his left foot. It was his last significant involvement.
 
“He did enough didn't he?” Sevilla coach Pablo Machin said aftwerwards.
 
Ousmane Dembele was Messi's replacement but Suarez took on the mantle, too quick to his own heavy touch and brought down by Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik. Suarez buried the penalty.
 
The game seemed up but Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to make a brilliant double save to deny Sarabia and then Wissam Ben Yedder with his thigh.
 
Sarabia gave Sevilla hope with 11 minutes left, his shot deflecting off Clement Lenglet and in, but Rakitic took the steam out of any comeback with a well-struck volley. Muriel added what proved only to be a consolation in injury time. 

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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