Lionel Messi has been named among the substitutes for Barcelona’s derby game at Espanyol on Sunday, the first time the Argentina superstar has not started a LaLiga game this season.
With Barca enjoying an 11-point lead at the top of the table, Ernesto Valverde likely has an eye on Thursday’s Copa del Rey semi-final with Valencia.
In Messi’s absence, Paco Alcacer starts his fifth league game of the campaign, with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho also named in attack.
Full-backs Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are also among the subs, with Nelson Semedo and Lucas Digne starting for Barca at RCDE Stadium.
Messi scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, which Barca won 5-0 in September.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_cat) February 4, 2018
Barca have a 1-0 lead going into the second leg of the Copa semi-final with Valencia, Messi having set up Suarez at Camp Nou for the only goal of the game.
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