Optimism increasing at Barça as Messi trains ahead of el Clásico

Virginia Santiago
February 6, 2019

Little did it matter that Messi had just struck two goals to lead Barcelona back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw.

He refuted the claim, though, that Messi's presence would have a major impact on the game.

"In football it is good for the best players to play in all games", Solari said.

"When we prepare the game obviously we have the reference of the players and how they performed [in the 5-1], but there was a different morale [at Madrid] at that time, that counts for a lot".

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Fourth-placed Sevilla missed the chance to overtake Real Madrid as they suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at struggling Celta Vigo.

Barca's French forward Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be fit for the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

"Between tomorrow and the day afterwards we'll need to see exactly how he is and what he has", Valverde said.

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Solari did not want to generate more noise than necessary by leaving out two players, and he will instead make his decision two hours before the game, which is when he will announce the starting line-up prior to Madrid travelling to the Camp Nou. "Leo didn't ask me to sub him off".

"In a semifinal between Barca and Madrid there's no favourite".

While Madrid have been far from their best this season, the absence of Messi would go a long way to levelling the playing field in Wednesday's cup tie, which will take place at the Camp Nou. "If Messi's ready he will play, if he's not he won't".

Real Madrid have a demanding month ahead of them with matches in LaLiga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. The Madrid coach assured that "so much more [rest] is curious, but we don't come up with [the scheduling]", in a clear reference to La Liga.

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