Barcelona is facing up to two months without the midfield magic of captain Andres Iniesta after he suffered a serious leg injury on Saturday.
Barcelona said Iniesta injured a ligament in his right knee when he was tackled early in the 3-2 win at Valencia.
Barcelona issued a medical report saying he would be out “six to eight weeks” to recover from the damage to his knee.
Among other matches, Iniesta will miss Barcelona’s Champions League match at Manchester City on Nov. 1, Spain’s World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Nov. 12, and probably Barcelona’s first clasico of the season against Real Madrid on Dec. 3.
Iniesta grabbed his knee and called for medical assistance after he was tackled by Valencia’s Enzo Perez in the 12th minute.
The Spain midfielder’s knee appeared to buckle during the aggressive tackle. Iniesta was in obvious pain while he was put on the stretcher and carried off.
Luis Enrique was furious that Perez wasn’t booked for the tackle.
“It was a clear action in which we saw a player injured and yet there was no yellow card,” he said. “It’s a serious injury.”
Ivan Rakitic replaced Iniesta. Barcelona won the match after Lionel Messi scored his second of two goals with a stoppage-time penalty.
It was a hostile game at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, with nine yellow cards issued during the match. Tensions spilled over after Messi’s game-winning penalty kick when a water bottle was thrown at the celebrating players.
The 32-year-old Iniesta is Barcelona’s best playmaker, blessed with superb vision, passing, and dribbling skills.
He has helped the club win 25 titles, including four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish leagues.
Iniesta is also a key player for Spain, which is seeking qualification for the 2018 World Cup.