Barcelona can cope without Messi – Pique

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The defender and team-mate Ivan Rakitic both attempted to downplay fears of Barca faltering without their star man

Gerard Pique acknowledged the absence of Lionel Messi will be a blow but insisted Barcelona can cope without their superstar captain.

Messi will miss three weeks with a fractured arm after suffering the injury in Barca's 4-2 win over Sevilla in Saturday's top-of-the-table La Liga clash.

After setting up Barca team-mate Philippe Coutinho and scoring himself, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi landed heavily on his right arm before leaving the field in the first half at Camp Nou.

Messi will sit out next weekend's Clasico against Real Madrid , as well as Barca's Champions League fixtures against Inter.

But Pique believes there is enough cover in the side to come out on top even without the Argentine playmaker in the side. 

"Psychologically we know that when he is there we are stronger but we cannot allow his absence to affect us," Barca centre-back Pique said.

"It makes a big difference to have or not to have him but we have enough cover so as not to worry about whether he is there or not."

Messi has scored seven La Liga goals for the Spanish champions this season and 12 in all competitions and is once again proving to be key to Ernesto Valverde's system

The club did, however, respond well to his injury on Saturday, holding off Sevilla and moving to the top of the Spanish league's table. 

Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic both netted after Messi was taken from the field, and the latter hopes his side can cover up the absence of the 31-year-old for the next few weeks. 

"We will try to make sure Leo's absence is noticed as little as possible," Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic added.

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Real Madrid's continued struggles will soften the blow of losing Messi somewhat, with the La Liga sides set to face off in the first Clasico that won't involve either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in 11 years

Barcelona currently hold a four-point lead over Madrid in La Liga, but are level with Inter on six points through two Champions League matches and face a pair of clashes against the Serie A side before the Argentine's expected return. 

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