Multi-tasker Messi the inspiration again, but Busquets injury is a big blow for Barca

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The Argentine assumed a dual role in midfield and attack at Eibar. However, the loss of the midfielder with suspected ligament damage is very bad news


Another important victory for Barcelona. Eibar had lost just twice at home in La Liga all season, but the Basque outfit were swept aside by a Blaugrana side led by an inspired Lionel Messi. The loss of Sergio Busquets to injury, though, represents a big blow for the Catalan club.

Messi helps Barca ease past Eibar

Busquets lasted just nine minutes of this match and departed on a stretcher with suspected ligament damage in his ankle after a terrible challenge by Eibar's Gonzalo Escalante which went without punishment.

Early reports claimed the Spain midfielder could be out for as much as four weeks and that is awful news for both the player and also his club, with no real replacement for the 28-year-old in Luis Enrique's squad.

To make matters worse, Barca were playing poorly early on in this game and with Busquets forced off, the midfield trio of Ivan Rakitic, Denis Suarez and Arda Turan was an unusual one. But Denis came up with a sweet strike - his first goal at senior level for Barca - to make it 1-0 after some good work from Messi.

Eibar Barca result 4-0

The Argentine dropped deep to assume a dual role in midfield and attack and Barca should have been well clear before half-time, with Luis Suarez, Arda and Neymar all wasting wonderful passes from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. 

Busquets stretchered off in Barca win

This was Messi the playmaker at his brilliant best, but the Argentine also moved further forward at the start of the second half to finalise a move himself - perhaps fed up with his team-mates squandering his excellent work further back.

Suarez was the provider with a lovely pass and the Uruguayan made it 3-0 later on, before Neymar rounded off the scoring with his first goal in open play since October 19, having previously been denied by a poor offside call.

Denis Suarez Eibar Barcelona LaLiga 22012017

Eibar Barcelona LaLiga 22012017

The win was an important one as Barca stay in third, only two points behind leaders and fierce rivals Real Madrid, although Los Blancos have played one fewer fixture due to their participation in the Club World Cup last month.

Rakitic to snub City and stay at Barca

"We have been looking to kick off a run of positive results and let's hope this is the start," Luis Enrique said afterwards. And he added: "Busquets' injury doesn't look as bad as we first thought."

If that is true, it is good news for Barca, with some big games ahead in the coming weeks, including the Champions League last-16, first-leg clash away to Paris Saint-Germain on February 14.

Messi is almost always a guarantee in such fixtures, but Busquets is essential for Barca and even though Rakitic did well in the role of 'pivot' on Sunday, Luis Enrique will be crossing his fingers that the Spain midfielder returns sooner rather than later.

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