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Messi and Pique ready to feature for Barca at Celtic

Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique expects Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique to be ready to face Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Barca were without their talisman Messi through illness as nine-man Malaga held them to a frustrating 0-0 draw in LaLiga at the weekend, while centre-back Pique sustained a foot injury during the match.

But Messi returned to training with his team-mates on Monday, while Luis Enrique’s confidence over Pique’s condition is a particular boost given Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu’s absence from the 20-man party that travelled to Glasgow.

“I only saw him this morning,” he said of Messi at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference.

“It wasn’t the best conditions to assess whether he is ready to play, but Leo is always ready to play.

“I’m sure he will be ready.”

On Pique, Luis Enrique added: “He’s good, he received a little injury to his foot, but in general he is fine and we hope he can play.”

Barca romped to a 7-0 win over Celtic in their opening Group C encounter, but Luis Enrique expects a match more in common with their previous visit to Britain before the international break – a 3-1 loss at former boss Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Celtic must win and hope City fail to do likewise at Borussia Monchengladbach to keep alive their hopes of progressing, while victory will secure Barca’s seemingly inevitable qualification for the last 16.

“I haven’t used any images of the game at Camp Nou, it won’t be like that,” Luis Enrique said.

“Possibly it is going to be more like the game against City.

“It’s going to be a different game and we have to be ready for everything, whether there is high pressure or low pressure.

“In all games it’s important to score early. Celtic need points so I think they will come out to attack. It will be nothing like the game that has gone before.”

Their weekend setback left Barca four points behind Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, but Luis Enrique is unconcerned by his team showing relative vulnerabilities compared to their domination of Spanish football over the past two seasons.

“I’ve got the same feeling,” he added. “We are only in the 12th game of LaLiga, the fifth game of the Champions League, Christmas still to come.

“We are going to keep going on. The important thing is that we get as many titles as possible.”

Tue 22 Nov, 2016
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