Speaking in the aftermath of Barcelona's 3-1 pre-season friendly win over the Malaysia XI at the Shah Alam Stadium in Malaysia, Barca head coach Gerardo Martino has eased fears of an impending "injury crisis", playing down the knocks suffered by Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Neymar.
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has been an ever-present thus far this pre-season, starting in each of Barcelona's five previous friendlies, but was forced to sit tonight's match out with discomfort in his thigh. Regarding Messi's status, Martino (all quotes translated into English via @barcastuff) said that "Messi felt some pain and was also a little tired, so there was a risk [of injury] if he would have played" and confirmed "it's nothing serious, but we wanted to avoid an injury".
Just before half-time, Barcelona goalscorer Neymar appeared to pick up a knock after a heavy challenge from one of the Malaysian players -- leading to some speculation that his half-time substitution was forced through injury. However, Martino did not mention an injury, instead revealing that Neymar is "fine", and that the half-time substitution was indeed "planned".
Unfortunately, Martino also confirmed that Cesc Fabregas picked up a "serious knock on his ankle" and therefore may miss Spain's midweek friendly with Ecuador as a result. If that is indeed the case, one has to wonder whether Cesc will be fit for the start of the season, with Barcelona scheduled to take on Levante next Sunday, and if he does miss Spain's match with Ecuador, will Vicente del Bosque take this as an opportunity to recall Xavi Hernandez?
Still, given the nature of today's match and the conditions at the Shah Alam Stadium, Barcelona can count themselves lucky to have only picked up one new injury concern -- and even then, Fabregas could be back for Sunday's big kick-off against Levante.