Ousmane Dembele's latest injury lay-off has affected the player and represents a "big loss" for Barcelona, according to head coach Ernesto Valverde.

The 22-year-old injured his right hamstring in the first half of Barca's 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined until February.

It is the latest in a string of fitness issues Dembele has suffered since his €105million transfer from Dortmund in August 2017, including three thigh problems, two damaged hamstrings and an ankle sprain.

Valverde is unsure why the France international has been regularly struck down by injuries over the past few seasons and wants others to fill the void.

"I'm not a specialist in muscle fibres," he said at Saturday's news conference. "I say that everything comes from the first injury. I do not have a concrete idea [of why he picks up these injuries]. He is a very explosive player.

"I've talked to him. Now he is calmer after the injury, but he was very affected especially by the repetition [of a muscular injury]. We'll try to cover for the loss with players from the B team, who are responding by playing at a good level.

"It's clear that when he arrived here two years ago, he had to get used to our style and fit in here. It is true that he was improving, being calm, training well. He is a big loss and it's an unexpected setback."

Dembele will be unavailable during a tricky run of fixtures for LaLiga's champions, who face Atletico Madrid on Sunday before matches against Mallorca, Inter, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Barca have come from behind to draw 1-1 on their previous two trips to Wanda Metropolitano and Valverde expects another tough test this weekend.

"In both games we fell behind and we had to come back, but they followed a very similar pattern," he said on the eve of the match. 

"We took the initiative, but they hurt us by attacking us. It is possible that it will become like this or that there is some modification tomorrow. They are good in attack and strong in defence, very cohesive. It'll be an attractive match.

"Any match at Atletico's ground is important for everyone. It is one of the important matches for everyone and we have to play well."

Arturo Vidal is expected to be part of Barcelona's travelling squad, despite suggesting this week that he will force through a move next year if he is not given more playing time.

Valverde does not believe the Chile international is pressuring him into getting more minutes, however, adding: "I don't think so. It's more a personal reflection. The transfer market isn't open yet, so when it starts we'll see.

"He fitted in well from the beginning. When he arrived he already knew that he was coming to a team that had won the league and cup.

"He found his place. The great players want to play, there is a lot of competition, but I reiterate that the market has not opened yet."

Ousmane Dembele will receive treatment on his injured hamstring at a sports medicine hospital in Qatar, Barcelona have confirmed.

Dembele is expected to be sidelined until February by the injury to his right hamstring, which he sustained during the first half of Barca's 3-1 win over his former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old will be unavailable during a tricky run of fixtures for the LaLiga champions, who face Atletico Madrid on Sunday before matches against Mallorca, Inter, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Dembele's injury is the latest in a string of fitness issues he has suffered since his €105million transfer from Dortmund in August 2017, including three thigh problems, two damaged hamstrings and an ankle sprain.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Ousmane Dembele is to begin treatment on his right hamstring injury on Sunday, alternating between Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Qatar and work closer to home at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.

"The entire recovery programme is being supervised and run by the FC Barcelona medical services.

"The initial forecast is that the player will be out of action for around 10 weeks."

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is likely to be out for up to 10 weeks with a thigh injury, the club have confirmed.

The France international was forced off in the first half of Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League win over former club Borussia Dortmund.

Barca announced on Friday that Dembele has damaged his right hamstring and is expected to be out of action until February.

Dembele is due to miss a difficult run of matches for the LaLiga champions, who face Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Deportivo Alaves before the mid-season break.

He will also sit out the Champions League visit to Inter on December 10 and is highly likely to be unavailable for the revamped Supercopa de Espana, with Barca facing Atletico in the semi-final on January 8.

Dembele, who has started only three league games this season, has seen his Barca career blighted by injuries since he joined from Dortmund for an initial €105million.

The 22-year-old has had three previous thigh problems and twice damaged hamstrings, while he also suffered an ankle sprain in January.

Barca travel to Atleti on Sunday looking to secure their place at the top of the table.The champions are level on 28 points with Madrid after 13 games, with Atleti three points adrift of the leaders and one behind Sevilla.

 

Luis Suarez has told Barcelona team-mate Ousmane Dembele and club doctors to find a solution to his injury problems following another setback.

Dembele went off in the first half of the 3-1 Champions League win over former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday due to a thigh injury.

The winger is due to have tests to determine the extent of the damage, but he is likely at least to miss Sunday's LaLiga showdown with Atletico Madrid.

Dembele has suffered three thigh problems in 2019 as part of a succession of injuries that have blighted his Barca career since moving from Dortmund in August 2017 for an initial €105million fee.

The 22-year-old, who has started only five matches in all competitions this season, has also had his professionalism called into question during a difficult time in Spain.

Suarez has now urged the player and medical staff to do their utmost to halt Dembele's problematic injury record.

"Dembele and the doctors have to try and find a solution to his injuries," Suarez said after the match, as quoted by Sport.

"[They have to find out] how he keeps getting injured after he has recovered. We hope he's back with us soon."

Suarez broke the deadlock at Camp Nou on Wednesday before setting up Lionel Messi for the second goal, and the Argentina star played in Antoine Griezmann - who came on for Dembele - to score the third.

Jadon Sancho pulled a goal back for Dortmund but Barca saw out a win that secured their place in the next round.

While he says his partnership with Messi has become easy after five years at the club, Suarez admitted they were eager to get Griezmann a goal to boost his confidence after a run of six appearances in all competitions without scoring.

"I've always said that spending time together, being with each other day to day, for so many years, playing games together makes the connection with Messi easy," Suarez said. 

"You start [running] knowing that he's going to put the ball in front of you. We always look for the best option. It's normal that we find each other because we're the two main forwards."

He added: "As has happened with other team-mates, knowing [Griezmann] was struggling to score, when we were up we looked for him. Antoine did spectacularly: he had chances and he scored. It's important for his confidence."

Ernesto Valverde praised the "amazing" Lionel Messi after the star led Barcelona past Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Messi scored and provided two assists in his 700th game for Barcelona, who secured top spot in Group F thanks to a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou.

While Messi and Luis Suarez combined for the first two goals, the former then set up Antoine Griezmann in the second half.

Valverde praised Messi, who broke a Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different opponent, for his performance.

"Luis and Leo understand each other perfectly because they have been together for a long time. At first it wasn't like that," the Barcelona coach said, via AS.

"Messi is an extraordinary passer and Griezmann was unmarked as well. You just have to find the timing.

"And of Leo's match, what am I going to say? It was amazing. It is not only what he does, but when he does it."

Griezmann started on the bench but was needed in the first half, when Ousmane Dembele came off with a thigh injury.

Valverde was disappointed for the France international, who has battled numerous injuries since his move to Barca from Dortmund in 2017.

"I don't know if it's a relapse or what leg it is. It has been a rare move because it has been in a jump, in which the leg has gone backwards. I don't know," he said.

"Right now we are sad for him because we are qualified but the bad news is the injury.

"We know he is suffering and we will see if we can help him."

Ousmane Dembele limped off for Barcelona in the first half of a Champions League clash against his old club Borussia Dortmund.

Dembele was surprisingly handed a place in the team at the expense of Antoine Griezmann but only managed 25 minutes of the Group F clash at Camp Nou.

The France forward appeared to hurt his left ankle in an innocuous challenge with a Dortmund defender and had to be taken off by coach Ernesto Valverde.

Griezmann was introduced for Dembele with Barca soon opening the scoring through Luis Suarez.

Dembele has struggled for form and fitness so far this season, scoring a single goal in five LaLiga appearances, while he has failed to find the net in four Champions League games.

Barca will secure qualification for the next round if they beat the out of form Bundesliga side.

Lionel Messi scored a scintillating hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo as he dug Barcelona out of a rut almost single-handedly at Camp Nou.

It had been a torrid week for the Blaugrana, who lost 3-1 at Levante before being held to a goalless draw by Slavia Prague, but Messi scored a penalty and two superb free-kicks as his side returned to the top of LaLiga.

The Argentina international delivered much more than just goals on a night when only a win would be acceptable for the Spanish champions, frequently dropping deep and driving an otherwise sleepy Barcelona side into attack.

Messi's goals took his tally to nine in his last seven games in all competitions and drew him level with Cristiano Ronaldo as the player with the most LaLiga hat-tricks, having netted 34, and Sergio Busquets scored his first league goal of the season late in the game.

The defeat was Celta's fifth in a row and newly appointed head coach Oscar Garcia will have his work cut out as he tries to lift them out of the bottom three.

Ernesto Valverde's out-of-sorts side took the lead when Junior Firpo's cross hit Joseph Aidoo's arm as the full-back slid in to block it and Messi nonchalantly rolled a side-footed penalty into the corner of the net, sending Ruben Blanco the wrong way.

But five minutes before the interval, Pape Cheikh sprinted through Barcelona's midfield only to be fouled by Messi 20 yards from goal and Lucas Olaza bent a superb free-kick into the corner of Marc-Andre ter Stegen's net.

Not to be outdone, Messi restored Barcelona's lead with a glorious strike after Fran Beltran fouled Arthur, the club's all-time leading scorer curling a picture-book goal into the top corner from 25 yards.

Ousmane Dembele came off the bench and sent a shot just past the angle of post and crossbar after a jinking solo run early in the second half.

Moments later Messi struck again, stepping up after Frenkie de Jong was fouled and sending a carbon copy of his first-half free-kick looping beyond the diving Blanco to complete his hat-trick.

Pione Sisto tested Ter Stegen from a tight angle as Celta probed for a way back into the game but the hosts continued to dominate and Antoine Griezmann should have put the result beyond doubt when he fired straight at Blanco from close range.

Griezmann trudged off as Valverde sent Luis Suarez on for the last 17 minutes but it was fellow substitute Busquets who stole a slice of Messi's glory when he collected a poor defensive header and drilled a low shot into the net to make sure of the victory five minutes from time.


What does it mean? Valverde can breathe again

Any kind of blip can lead to an unsettled mood around Camp Nou but Valverde's job looks safe again after Messi demonstrated the kind of swagger that is expected at Barcelona.

No stopping Messi's magic

The way Messi scored an unforgettable free-kick just before half-time and then casually repeated the feat three minutes after the break provided a reminder - if it were needed - that he operates on a level above any of his peers.

Griezmann shrinks in the shadow of greatness

One goal in six LaLiga matches is a poor return from Griezmann, who missed a gilt-edged chance and offered very little throughout the game.

What's next?

Barcelona head to Leganes when LaLiga resumes after the international break, while Celta face a trip to Villarreal.

Samuel Umtiti could make just his second appearance of the season on Tuesday after the defender was included in Barcelona's Champions League squad to face Sparta Prague.

The France international received medical clearance to feature in the Champions League clash at Camp Nou after coming through a training session on the eve of the Group F fixture.

Umtiti has been dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of Barca's last three games.

The centre-back was also sidelined earlier in the 2019-20 season with a foot issue; his solitary outing so far came in a 3-0 away triumph over Eibar on September 19.

Ousmane Dembele is also named in the 18-man party. The forward was not involved in Saturday's shock 3-1 LaLiga loss to Levante, despite being available again after serving a two-game suspension.

Asked about Dembele's absence in a news conference on Monday, head coach Ernesto Valverde said that "everyone always has to earn their place" in the Barca team.

The Spanish champions sit top of a group that also includes Borussia Dortmund and Inter.

Ernesto Valverde has challenged Ousmane Dembele to earn his place in the Barcelona team after the forward was surprisingly left out against Levante.

Dembele was not part of Valverde's squad for Saturday's shock 3-1 loss in LaLiga, despite being available again after serving a two-game suspension.

Barca let slip a one-goal lead as they conceded three times in the space of seven minutes in the second half, their hopes of a recovery not aided by the loss of Luis Suarez to a calf injury before the interval.

The presence of Dembele on the bench may have helped Valverde at the weekend, though the Blaugrana boss is adamant the France international must show he deserves to be regularly involved.

"Everyone always has to earn their place - Dembele is no exception," Valverde told the media ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game against Slavia Prague.

"When he plays, he can stay in that position [if he plays well], as happens to Ansu [Fati], Luis [Suarez], [Antoine] Griezmann or [Gerard] Pique.

"When you have your chance, you will have to try to stay [in the team]."

Valverde was also questioned over the future of Riqui Puig amid reports the midfielder may push to leave in January to get first-team football – he is yet to feature for Barca so far this season.

"I don't know what can happen in the next transfer window - there is still time," Valverde said when asked about the rumours the 20-year-old is considering his future at Camp Nou.

"We have a lot of midfielders. With his talent, it is clear he will play at Barca. What we do not know is when."

Ousmane Dembele has been omitted from Barcelona's squad for Saturday's LaLiga meeting with Levante, despite being available following a two-match suspension.

The France international was sent off in the 4-0 victory against Sevilla on October 6 following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, forcing him to miss the league wins against Eibar and Real Valladolid.

He was free to be involved in this weekend's trip to Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, but coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his 19-man squad.

It is the latest in a long line of setbacks for Dembele, who missed a month of action earlier in the campaign due to a hamstring problem.

Samuel Umtiti is also not part of Barcelona's travelling group, having only returned to full training on Friday.

However, Valverde has recalled Arthur and Junior Firpo following the 5-1 win over Real Valladolid on Tuesday.

Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

Ousmane Dembele will miss the first Clasico of the season after being handed a two-match ban by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The Barcelona winger was sent off in the closing minutes of the 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla last Sunday after confronting referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

According to the referee's match report, Dembele said to him, "Very bad, you are very bad", as Barca players surrounded him to argue against Araujo's dismissal.

Barca appealed against Dembele's red card but the RFEF has dismissed their case and given the France international a two-game ban.

He will therefore sit out the trip to Eibar on October 19 and then the visit of Real Madrid to Camp Nou on October 26.

Araujo has been banned for one game, as has Gerard Pique, who has collected five bookings this season. Both will be available to face Madrid.

Dembele has made three LaLiga appearances this season and scored his first goal of 2019-20 in the defeat of Sevilla.

Barca are two points behind league leaders Real Madrid after eight matches.

Neymar signing for Real Madrid was a prospect Lionel Messi feared was about to become a reality.

The Brazil superstar featured in a lethal front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m move two years ago.

Reports of Neymar wishing to return to LaLiga have been frequent since then and an 'MSN' reunion was mooted during the close season.

But with Barcelona unable to put together a package to make the deal happen, Messi worried his old team-mate would end up pulling on the famous white shirt of their sworn rivals.

"I honestly thought that in this market, if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid, because I really thought he wanted to leave," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told RAC1.

"He said it, he wanted to change, to leave Paris. I thought that Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid president] and Madrid would do something to take him away."

Barcelona still boast a plethora of elite forward options.

Messi is back to fitness after a calf problem delayed his start to the 2019-20 season, while Suarez came through a period of criticism to score four times in the space of eight days before the international break.

Big-money arrival Antoine Griezmann is still bedding in, although his fellow France international Ousmane Dembele must serve a suspension having been sent off for dissent during the 4-0 victory against Sevilla last time out.

In his report, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz said Dembele told him he was "very bad, you're very bad" in response to Barca youngster Ronald Araujo being red-carded.

Like coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi was perplexed by the incident – mainly due to Dembele's lack of aptitude with the Spanish language – that means the winger is set to miss El Clasico at Camp Nou later this month.

"It is very difficult for him to be able to say that because it is difficult for him to put together sentences and speak well enough to speak clearly," Messi said.

"The coach supported him at a press conference. The truth is we were surprised that [the referee] understood it so clearly because Ousmane has a hard time speaking Spanish – although he makes himself understood and understands everything.

"It's difficult [to accept the referee] understood it so clearly. That's just the way it is."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was left pondering Ousmane Dembele's red card at the end of his side's rout of Sevilla, claiming the Frenchman's grasp of Spanish would have restricted the words that led to his dismissal.

Dembele was sent off two minutes from time for protesting the red card shown to Barcelona debutant Ronald Araujo in Sunday's 4-0 LaLiga victory, and Valverde said the late disciplinary flurry did not reflect the manner of the game.

Barca cruised to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring three goals in eight first-half minutes before captain Lionel Messi added a fourth with a second-half free-kick.

Valverde praised his side's incisive forward play after the champions moved within two points of top spot thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Dembele and Messi.

"We have had more punch than them, there is the key," Valverde told reporters afterwards.

"The result is substantial, but we don't have to be forgiving to our rivals.

"The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.

"It didn't seem like Araujo's fault, but I always see everything in favour of my team.

"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui hailed his side's bright start, in which Luuk de Jong squandered three good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.

But Barcelona's dominance thereafter leaves Sevilla with three defeats from their last four LaLiga matches and Lopetegui felt the result at Camp Nou was harsh on his players.

"The first 30 to 35 minutes were ours," said Lopetegui. "We had very clear chances and we didn't score. And in such a scenario when you don't take advantage, the laws of football take effect."

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele scored memorable goals for Barcelona as Ernesto Valverde's decision to drop Antoine Griezmann was vindicated in a 4-0 victory over Sevilla.

While their €120million signing among the substitutes, Suarez's acrobatic overhead kick got the LaLiga champions off the mark, Arturo Vidal polished off a sublime passing move with the second and Dembele scored a solo effort to all but end the contest.

Lionel Messi wrapped up the win with a curling second-half free-kick and the synergy between Barcelona's front three, which has not always clicked with Griezmann involved, will not have been lost on Valverde.

The match ended in unsavoury fashion for the Catalans, though, who saw debutant Ronald Araujo and Dembele sent off shortly before injury time.

Luuk de Jong received good service from Lucas Ocampos in the early stages but he fluffed three chances put Sevilla ahead before Suarez broke the deadlock with a moment of magic 27 minutes in.

The Uruguay marksman watched Nelson Semedo's cross loop through the air and met it with an overhead kick into the bottom corner of the net before goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik could react.

The goal settled the hosts and five minutes later a move that incorporated 25 passes and all 11 Barcelona players culminated in Arthur's weighted ball, which allowed Vidal to slide in and glance a shot past Vaclik.

Dembele made it 3-0 inside eight first-half minutes when his slaloming run tore through Sevilla's defence, the 22-year-old opening his body and side-footing in at the far post.

The second half started just like the first, with De Jong squandering a great chance to score when he drilled a shot against the post from just inside the Barca box.

The hosts were soon back on top and Messi twice surged through Sevilla's midfield before putting the finishing touches on a fine win with a dipping, curling free-kick 12 minutes from time.

Valverde sent on Araujo for his debut, which turned sour when he was judged to have fouled Javier Hernandez as the Sevilla forward went through on goal and was shown a red card along with Dembele, who was sent off for his protests.

 

What does it mean? Barca go second

After Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Valladolid, Barcelona took full advantage and claimed a result that moved them up to second place in the table, two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Frenkie says 'Relax!'

A run of mixed results in August and September left Valverde under pressure but his players looked calm and assured here, none more so than Frenkie de Jong, who looks every inch the composed midfield lynchpin to succeed Sergio Busquets – a second-half substitute here.

No luck for Luuk

While Barca's De Jong barely put a foot wrong his Sevilla namesake had a torrid evening, the centre-forward missing four clear chances to give the visitors a foothold in the game.

What's next?

Barcelona will hope to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions by beating Eibar away from home on October 19, while Sevilla aim to get back on course as they entertain Levante a day later.

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