Last Update 21:13
Sunday, 26 May 2019

Messi back in training but Valverde will not take risks

AFP , Tuesday 5 Feb 2019
Messi
Messi scored twice in Barcelona's draw with Valencia AFP
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1386
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1386

Lionel Messi returned to training on Tuesday ahead of Barcelona's Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid but coach Ernesto Valverde insists he will not take any risks with his captain's fitness.

Messi is a doubt for the first leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday after feeling discomfort in his thigh during Sunday's draw with Valencia.

The Argentinian missed training on Monday but was back with the squad on Tuesday evening. During the 15 minutes open to the media, a smiling Messi was seen doing some light jogging and taking part in a relaxed keep-ball session.

Shortly before training, Valverde had said in a press conference: "I have not seen him yet and I don't have an answer.

"There is a training session and we will see how he is, whether he can do it and whether he is in the right condition.

"Then we will decide. If he is fit, he will play and if he is not, he will not play."

Valverde added: "It is true that sometimes we have had doubts with players and we have waited until the last moment, and it's the same with Messi."

Barca face a testing period of fixtures, including three Clasicos in the next month. The next two will come back-to-back, with the second leg of the Copa del Rey scheduled for February 27 before a La Liga fixture on March 2, both at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There will also be two Champions League matches against Lyon to negotiate, as well as tricky league trips to Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla.

Valverde cautious over Messi fitness

Valverde indicated he would be cautious with Messi's fitness. "I am not very supportive of taking risks when there are so many games ahead," Valverde said. "If the league ended tomorrow, it would be a different question.

"But risking the fitness of any player -- Messi or anyone else -- I'm not really in favour of it because they inevitably play with some fear, and games like tomorrow cannot be played with fear."

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari had said earlier on Tuesday that he hoped Messi would be available. "In football it's always best that the best players play in every game, that's just how it is," Solari said.

Ousmane Dembele is close to recovering from an ankle injury. Valverde said the Frenchman trained separately on Monday and was set to join the rest of the squad for Tuesday's session.

"We will see how he feels, he is on track," Valverde said. "The most important thing is the player tells you he is ready. Then you have a decision to make and you have to weigh up the pros and cons."

Valverde admitted he might have to rotate his line-up given the number of important games coming up. "The calendar is very complicated," he said.

"It was already complicated in January but with this semi-final at a very high level, more league games, more games in the Champions League knock-out stages, we have to walk a fine line. We are in a decisive part of the season."

Madrid sit eight points adrift of Barcelona in La Liga but have won their last five games in a row in all competitions. They appear a team transformed since the 5-1 defeat by Barca in October.

"Real Madrid usually play well at the Camp Nou," Valverde said. "In October they were going through a delicate period but now they are better. We are expecting them at their best."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.