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Overwork finally catches up with Lionel Messi

November 12, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Barcelona's Lionel Messi waits to take a corner kick during a UEFA Champions league football match against AC Milan Nov. 6.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi waits to take a corner kick during a UEFA… (Josep Lago / AFP / Getty Images )

Turns out Lionel Messi is human after all.

Or at least his left hamstring is, which is why the four-time FIFA player of the year will probably be out until January after the hamstring gave way during first half of Barcelona's La Liga win over Real Betis on Sunday.

That means Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his fourth hat trick of the season Saturday against Real Sociedad, will probably supplant Messi -- at least temporarily -- as the world's best player and should pick up the FIFA Ballon d'Or in January.

Ronaldo, who leads Portugal against Sweden in World Cup qualifying Friday, has scored 16 times in 13 La Liga matches and has 27 goals in 19 matches for club and country combined.

Messi, meanwhile, will probably take his time coming back from his latest injury. Over the last year Messi has been slowed by various leg problems, including injuries to his right thigh that cost him a month. Despite that he's scored 14 times in 14 La Liga appearances.

Overwork has been Messi's biggest problem. Since the start of the 2011-12 La Liga season, the 26-year-old has played in 155 matches in 28 months, a pace of nearly 1½ a week.

His focus for the coming year will likely center on regaining his fitness for June's World Cup in Brazil, where he will try to bring Argentina it's first title since 1986.

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