Football: Argentina boss blasts Barca over Messi injury

Argentina's coach Edgardo Bauza gestures during the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers match between Argentina and Venezuela.
Argentina's coach Edgardo Bauza gestures during the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers match between Argentina and Venezuela.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES  (AFP) - Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza launched a stinging attack on Barcelona on Thursday (Sept 22) after losing star forward Lionel Messi for vital World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Paraguay next month.

Messi will be sidelined for the next three weeks due to a groin strain suffered in Barca's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

And that brought a furious rebuke of the Catalans from Bauza.

"They send us messages to look after Messi but they don't protect him. He plays every match," Bauza, who said his team would nevertheless cope, told Fox Sports.

"We've already played without Messi. Having him is an advantage for the problems he creates (for opponents).

"But for me as coach and for the team it's a challenge if we have to play without him."

Argentina are third in the South American World Cup qualifying group, one point behind leaders Uruguay.

They play Peru in Lima on Oct 6 before hosting Paraguay on Oct 11 in Cordoba.

Only the top four teams in Conmebol qualifying earn an automatic place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.