Madrid: Lionel Messi, the four-time world player of the year, has been ruled out for the rest of the year due to a hamstring injury, said Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino Monday.
Barcelona face Ajax in their Champions League game on Tuesday. The last time these two teams met last September, Messi scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-0 victory.
Martino recognized Messi's absence will be a boost for any side that faces Barcelona between now and his return, reported Xinhua.
However, he was still confident that Barcelona will get at least a point they need to guarantee first place in Group H.
"I have said already this week that without Messi we have lost the best player in the world and that always creates a difficulty. If I was on the other side I would see it as a positive, but the quality of the Barcelona squad means there can be no excuses," he said.