It’s okay to exhale. Lionel Messi‘s injury looked much worse than it actually was.
The soccer superstar was carted off the field Wednesday, and many feared he would be sidelined for a significant period of time. It turns out Messi suffered some bruising on his left knee, and he could be available to play as soon as this weekend, according to the Associated Press.
“I sincerely thought it was the last ball I would be touching for a long time because of the pain,” Messi said Thursday. “I tried to go ahead and shoot but I didn’t have the strength.”
“I feel much better than yesterday. I don’t know if I will be there on Sunday,” he said. “It depends on how [my left knee] progresses.
“I didn’t think anything when it happened. I just believed from the pain that I would be sidelined for a long time,” Messi said. “At that moment I thought the worst. Later, when the doctor examined me in the changing room and ruled out a serious injury, it was a relief.”
Messi is in hot pursuit of Gerd Muller‘s record for most goals in a calendar year. He’s struck 84 times for club and country in 2012, trailing the German legend by just one goal. When Messi went down in the 87th minute of Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League game against Benfica, many assumed the injury would be serious enough to end his record chase. That is not the case.
“It looks like it’s just a knock: Messi will be with us for some time,” Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova said.
Barcelona plays four more games in 2012, the first of which is Sunday’s La Liga game against Real Betis. Messi’s availability will be a game time decision.
The 25-year-old has shown remarkable durability in recent years. The last time he missed a game due to injury was in September 2010.
Now that the initial panic has subsided, we can get back to watching in awe, as one of the best players of all-time pursues yet another milestone.
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