MADRID: Barcelona captain Lionel Messi’s hopes of playing in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Real Madrid were boosted after he took part in training yesterday, having missed the previous day’s session due to injury.
Messi set alarm bells off after sustaining a knock to his calf during Saturday’s 2-2 La Liga draw with Valencia, although he was able to finish the game after being treated, with Barca not releasing a medical report on his condition.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game at the Nou Camp, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said he would see how Messi responded in training, but that he would take no risks with the club’s all-time top scorer.
“The most important thing is whether the player tells you he is ready or not. Regardless of what tests say, if the player doesn’t think he’s ready, you have to leave him out,” Valverde said.
“I’m not in favour of taking risks with so many games coming up, if the season finished tomorrow, it would be another matter. When there is a risk of injury, players play with the handbrake on and tomorrow’s game is not one where you want to do that.”
Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said he hoped Messi played for the good of the game – but he added that the Argentine’s presence would not affect his match preparation.
“It’s always good when the best players get to play every game, but whether or not he plays will not influence the way we prepare for the game at all,” Solari said.
Messi was out with a broken arm the last time Spain’s two biggest clubs met, back in October. But Barca barely missed their talisman, thrashing Real 5-1 in what proved to be Julen Lopetegui’s last game as manager before Solari took over.
Real are third in the La Liga standings but cut their gap behind leaders Barca to eight points after beating Alaves on Sunday.