Andres Iniesta has handed Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde a major injury concern ahead of next week's Champions League clash with Chesea after suffering a hamstring injury during the 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Sunday [4 March].
The Blaugrana captain enjoyed an impressive start to the game at the Nou Camp but had to be replaced by Andre Gomes just minutes after Lionel Messi gave his side the lead with a marvellous free-kick.
Barcelona managed to hold that advantage until the end of the match to take a big step towards the La Liga title and increase their advantage over second-place Atletico to eight points with 11 fixtures remaining.
But the victory came at a heavy price for the La Liga leaders, with a scan confirming that Valverde could be without Iniesta over the coming games due to his latest hamstring blow.
"Andrés Iniesta has suffered a hamstring injury in his right leg that forced him off in the first half of Barça's 1-0 win over Atlético at Camp Nou," Barcelona confirmed through an official statement.
"The Barça midfielder first felt the problem after 20 minutes and despite continuing out on the field, he was finally replaced by André Gomes on 34 minutes. Medical tests carried out at the end of the game have confirmed the injury and his recovery will determine when he returns to action."
Barcelona have the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Andre Gomes, Paulinho and Denis Suarez available to fill the void but Valverde admitted that losing Iniesta for the coming games would be a major blow for his side.
"Without Iniesta we lose a unique player, irreplaceable. It's difficult to find a substitute because there is no-one like him in the world. Let's hope the injury is nothing serious," Valverde said in a press conference following the win over Atletico.
Barcelona failed to set an exact time frame on Iniesta's recovery, but initial reports from Catalunya Radio claim that the 33-year-old midfielder could eventually be sidelined for between three and four weeks.
If this report proves to be accurate, Iniesta would certainly miss the decisive second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea on Wednesday 14 March, with Barcelona looking to capitalise on that initial 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge and book their place in the quarter-finals.
Iniesta could also miss coming games against Espanyol, Malaga and Athletic Club Bilbao and take advantage of the following international break to step up his recovery and be ready to to help Barcelona during the run-in.
Barcelona's next five matches
Barcelona vs Espanyol (7 March) –Copa Catalunya final
Malaga vs Barcelona (10 March) - La Liga
Barcelona vs Chelsea (14 March) – Champions League
Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao (18 March) - La Liga
Sevilla vs Barcelona (1 April) - La Liga