El-Clasico: Barcelona sweat over Messi's fitness ahead of Madrid clash
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El-Clasico: Barcelona sweat over Messi’s fitness ahead of Madrid clash

El-Clasico: Barcelona sweat over Messi's fitness ahead of Madrid clash

Barcelona have named Lionel Messi in the squad to face Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, but will “wait until the last moment” to decide if he plays.

The Argentine returned to training on Tuesday after suffering a thigh injury in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Valencia.

“It is true that sometimes we have had doubts with players and we have waited until the last moment,” said manager Ernesto Valverde.

“It’s the same with Messi.”

Wednesday’s tie at the Nou Camp will be the first of three El Clasico’s in 25 days, with the second leg on Wednesday, 27 February and a La Liga encounter on Saturday, 2 March.

Forward Ousmane Dembele is also unlikely to be fit for the first leg at the Nou Camp, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Real Madrid have everyone available apart from defender Jesus Vallejo, who is out with a muscular issue.

Barcelona have a tight grip on this competition having won the past four finals to take their overall number of Copa del Rey triumphs to 30 – more than anyone else.

Real are the third most successful club, having won the trophy 19 times, although they last claimed the title in 2014.

The last time one of the Clasico clubs did not win the competition was in 2012-13 when Atletico Madrid beat city rivals Real, while the last time one of the two giants did not participate in the final was during the 2009-10 season when Sevilla lifted the trophy.

2018-19 continues this trend, with one of the two Spanish giants guaranteed a spot in the final for the ninth year running.

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