Lionel Messi endured yet more injury frustration on Tuesday (Sep 24) after going off at half-time against Villarreal but Barcelona gave their coach Ernesto Valverde some much-needed relief with a comfortable 2-1 victory.

Messi received treatment in the first half for what looked like a problem with his left thigh and was then unable to continue after the interval, replaced by Ousmane Dembele.

His withdrawal will be a major concern for Barca, particularly given this was Messi’s first start of the season after just recovering from a niggling calf injury sustained at the start of August.

Even if this latest complaint proves a separate issue, Valverde will face questions about his captain’s readiness to return and whether the 32-year-old was rushed back too soon.

Certainly, Barcelona would have been eager to see Messi in the line-up, having suffered a humbling 2-0 loss at newly-promoted Granada on Saturday, a result that left them with seven points from five games, their worst start to a season since 1995.

They arrived at Camp Nou with doubts hovering, particularly over Valverde, but delivered a far more convincing win than the scoreline suggested, thanks to early goals from Antoine Griezmann, his third of the season, and Arthur Melo.

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