Lionel Messi has been included on the Barcelona squad that will face Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals.
Barca’s captain had been in doubt for Wednesday’s game at Camp Nou because of an apparent thigh injury sustained in his team’s last game, a 2-2 draw at Valencia, in which Messi scored twice.
But he trained Tuesday and was subsequently named to Barca’s 19-man squad to take on rival Madrid, although coach Ernesto Valverde had earlier indicated in a news conference that he would not risk Messi unless he was fully fit.
“We treat every player exactly the same, some players are declared fit at the last moment and we will react exactly the same to Leo Messi as with any other player in the squad,” Valverde said.
“I like to take risks when you have a cushion to fall back on. If it was the last game of the league it would be a different question. But you wouldn’t risk a player with an injury under any circumstances, Messi or anyone. Players with an injury are playing with the handbrake on.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 5, 2019
Although Messi has been deemed fit enough to be on the squad, there is no place for winger Ousmane Dembele.
He trained Tuesday but the visit of Madrid has come too soon for the France forward to make his return from a hamstring injury.
With reserve goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen sidelined, having played throughout Barca’s run to the semifinals, Inaki Pena is included as cover for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Messi did not play in the most recent Clasico between the sides in October at Camp Nou due to an arm injury, but Barca ran out 5-1 winners regardless.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 5, 2019
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