Lionel Messi proved to be the difference on Thursday night against Uruguay but Argentina will need to go to Mérida on Tuesday in search of three points from Venezuela without their captain after Edgardo Bauza confirmed his precautionary absence.
The Barcelona star admitted to feeling discomfort in his pubis at full time, a continuation of the knock that he picked up in the final La Liga match before joining up the squad, and with Argentina not wanting to take risks ahead of a busy schedule with the Catalan club, Messi will miss the World Cup qualifier against Venezuela.
“Lio [Messi] is in pain, we will leave it for the official report but unfortunately he will not be able to play the next game,” confirmed Edgardo Bauza at the Ezeiza campus on Friday morning.
“He has an inflammation and we cannot take any risks. We spoke with him and the doctor and it is advisable that he doesn’t play in this match. I don’t think he will travel as it is a sensitive issue and he must be looked after.”
The news doesn’t come as a surprise after Messi immediately told reporters after Thursday’s victory, “I don’t know if I’ll play against Venezuela. I have some pain in the pubis region so I’ll talk to the doctor.”
Barcelona will certainly be pleased to hear that Argentina are approaching the situation with caution given Luis Enrique’s side have seven matches over a period of 23 days shortly.
What is less clear is how Bauza will line-up on Tuesday with Paulo Dybala now also suspended. Nicolás Gaitán will presumably play on the right as he did under Gerardo Martino when Messi was injured but there remains a hole in the number ten position.