Real Madrid fans unhappy over choice of referee for El Clasico

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
Messi back in training but Valverde will not take risks
Author

07 February, 2019

Messi was hurt when Barcelona drew with Valencia 2-2 at home, a result that halted the team's eight-game winning streak in the Spanish league.

Messi has been in typically imperious form this season, netting almost 30 goals in all competitions but Valverde says that Barcelona have enough firepower in their arsenal to overcome Real Madrid even if their captain isn't on the field.

Asked at the prematch news conference in Madrid whether he wanted his fellow Argentine to be available for Wednesday's game, Solari said it would be best for the spectacle for Messi to feature. "We'll see if he can complete the session, if he will show that he is in condition to play".

Ousmane Dembele is close to recovering from an ankle injury.

Both sides rested a couple of key personnel for the tie, with Lionel Messi starting on the bench for the hosts, while the likes of Courtois and Casemiero were left sitting on the pine for Los Blancos. "If the league ended tomorrow, it would be a different question".

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Maurizio Sarri criticised his players' mentality following the game, but the personnel are as much the problem as anything else. Morata was billed as the long-term replacement for Diego Costa, but could now follow his fellow Spain striker back to Madrid.

Most notable among Real's squad alterations has been the evolution of Vinicius Junior, who scored his first La Liga goal in Sunday's 3-0 win over Alaves.

Messi was out with a broken arm in the last Clasico in October, but Barcelona barely missed him, thrashing Real 5-1 in what proved to be Julen Lopetegui's last game in charge of Real.

Ahead of the semi-final first leg of the Copa Clásico, Bartomeu discussed how the Catalan side would approach trying to sign the Spain worldwide.

"In a semi-final between Barca and Madrid there's no favorite".

'Isco? For the sake of Real Madrid I would speak with the president of Real Madrid'. The semi-final second leg will is scheduled for February 27, while a La Liga fixture follows soon after on March 2.


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