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Valverde coy on Messi’s inclusion ahead of El Clasico

Valverde coy on Messi’s inclusion ahead of El Clasico

Ernesto Valverde has remained coy on the inclusion of Lionel Messi from the start against Real Madrid on Wednesday evening in the Copa del Rey.

Messi did not attend training for Barcelona on Monday morning after suffering an injury against Valencia at the weekend and reports claimed that he would give a decision on his inclusion in the side for the game against Los Blancos on Tuesday.

The Argentine picked up a knock in the 2-2 draw and was said to be undergoing tests with club doctors on Tuesday, but no news has followed – leaving Barca fans in doubt and Madrid fans unsure whether they will face the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“We will decide depending on the progress in the final training session,” Valverde told reporters.

“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.

“It will not alter our plans much and there is not a favourite for an El Clasico semi-final, both sides have very good players.

“We believe we have the best player in the world along with many other great players, as do Real Madrid – it will be a great game.”

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Valverde chose to make a few changes to his starting eleven against Valencia at the weekend and that included leaving Jordi Alba on the bench, whilst Sergio Busquets was missing.

Los Che started the game superbly well and tested Barca’s defence, which included Thomas Vermaelen and it was the visitors who opened the scoring when Rodrigo Moreno broke on the counter attack and played in his strike partner – Kevin Gameiro, who finished well.

Barca then pressed for an equaliser, but it was the visitors who scored the second goal of the game when Sergi Roberto hauled down Denis Cheryshev and Dani Parejo scored a superb spot kick past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Valverde’s men then pushed for a goal before the break and it came when Nelson Semedo was fouled in the area and Lionel Messi was on hand to score past Neto.

Neto then proved vital for the visitors, denying Philippe Coutinho and Messi on several occasions but it could do nothing to stop the latter from getting an equaliser in the second half.

The game stayed that way until the final whistle though as Valencia stayed strong and held on to an impressive point.