Lionel Messi will miss Barcelona's La Liga showdown with Valencia on Saturday and is also a doubt for Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Dortmund as he has yet to recover from the calf injury he picked up in August, coach Ernesto Valverde said.
It was initially thought the Argentine striker would be sidelined for only a few weeks but he has yet to play any part in this campaign.
In his absence, the league champions have made a lacklustre start to the season, losing their opening game to Athletic Bilbao before taking just four points from fixtures against Real Betis and Osasuna.
They are eighth in the standings, five points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid with three games played.
“At first it looked like a little bit of a hold up in his recovery. His scar opened a bit, and that means we are now taking it easy with him,” Valverde told a news conference.
“He’s on the road to recovery. I don’t want to put any expectation on it, but it’ll be difficult for Tuesday.
“The fact he isn’t playing is important for us. I can’t deny he’s a key man.”
While Valverde will also be without Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez has returned to full training and is likely to earn a recall in attack alongside Antoine Griezmann.
Saturday game will be Albert Celades’s first game as Valencia coach following Marcelino’s sacking on Wednesday.
Bilbao miss late penalty and chance to go top
Athletic Bilbao and hosts Real Mallorca both missed late penalties and ended up sharing the points with a goalless draw on Friday, leaving the visitors in second place in La Liga, a point behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Bilbao had a golden opportunity to snatch victory with a stoppage time penalty, awarded after video review for a hand ball. But Aritz Aduriz saw his spot kick saved by keeper Manolo Reina.
Mallorca, who had lost their previous three league encounters against Bilbao, were the livelier team and could have also scored earlier.
They hit the post with a Salva Sevilla shot in the 76th and then missed their biggest chance when Abdon fired his penalty wide in the 81st.
Mallorca have now failed to score in their last three league games.
Athletic, who also hit the crossbar in stoppage time, are on eight points from four matches. Atletico Madrid, top on nine from three games, travel to Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Real Madrid, on five, entertain Levante while Barcelona, a point behind, host Valencia.