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La Liga Preview: Malaga v Barcelona

Lionel Messi is an injury doubt for Barcelona’s trip to Malaga, after being withdrawn at half-time in Wednesday’s draw with Atletico Madrid.

The Argentina international could only manage 45 minutes as a Neymar header saw Barcelona come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at the Vicente Calderon in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana.

Messi has been plagued with muscular issues at the start of the campaign, and was a doubt for the club’s opening fixture against Levante last Sunday.

But he recovered in time to score twice as Barcelona stormed to a 7-0 win at Camp Nou.

However, the club confirmed on their official website that he has bruised the femoral biceps tendon in his left thigh, and he now faces a race against time to feature at the Estadio La Rosaleda on Sunday.

If he does not play, Gerardo Martino could be tempted to hand a first start to Brazilian Neymar, after he rescued a draw on Wednesday.

And the former Santos star is confident he has more to offer.

“I hope it will be the first goal of many,” he told Spanish television station TVE.

“I score very few goals with my head so they are even more valuable. I am happy to have got my first goal.

“It’s a shame that I haven’t been able to play with Messi yet, he is the best in the world and everyone wants to play with him.”

Malaga manager Bernd Schuster takes charge of a team against Barcelona for the first time since he led Real Madrid to a 4-1 victory over the Catalan club at the Bernabeu in May 2008.

He could hand a debut to Bartlomiej Pawlowski, after the forward received international clearance for his transfer. The move was initially delayed following a dispute between two of his former clubs, Widzew Lodz and Jagiellonia Bialystok, over who owned the player.

The Andalusian team are looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat away to Valencia on Saturday, and left-back Vitorino Antunes says they will go all out to spring a surprise.

“I’ve got a great respect for them (Barcelona), but then I do for every team,” he told the club’s official website.

“We know that Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, so playing them is a great motivation for us.

“We want to win our first home game of the season, and we will be doing all we can to earn the three points.”

Fri 23 August, 2013
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