Barcelona waiting 'until the last moment' on Lionel Messi fitness for El Clasico
February 6, 2019 03:03 PM NPT
Barcelona are waiting on a late fitness test to see if Lionel Messi will be fit to feature in Wednesday's Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.
Barca have named Messi in their 19-man squad for the semi-final first leg at the Camp Nou, but he missed training on Monday after suffering a thigh injury on Saturday.
Per BBC Sport, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said: "It is true that sometimes we have had doubts with players and we have waited until the last moment. It's the same with Messi."
"We will decide depending on the progress in the final training session," Valverde added, per AS (h/t Football Espana). "If he is available for selection, if he is fit and performs well in training then we will be in a position to play him but it depends."
Messi has returned 29 goals and 17 assists in all competitions this season, and those contributions have extended into the Copa del Rey:
Surprisingly, he has failed to find the net in six Copa del Rey matches against Real, but he otherwise has an excellent overall record in El Clasico, having racked up 26 goals and 14 assists in 37 games.
Barcelona beat Madrid 5-1 in La Liga earlier in the season despite Messi's absence through injury, but Los Blancos are in better form this time around having won seven of their last eight matches.
The Blaugrana will also be missing Ousmane Dembele this time around, so Messi's presence will be even more important to achieving a positive result in the home leg.
If the Argentinian isn't able to take part, it will fall to Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to shoulder the burden.