Good News For Barcelona And Lionel Messi Ahead Of Copa Del Rey Clásico
Get the best email in soccer.
On Wednesday, FC Barcelona will host Real Madrid in a Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at the Camp Nou. This will be the 239th competitive meeting of the sides — and the 34th in the Copa — but it’s one that many feared Lionel Messi would miss. The Barça captain suffered a thigh injury during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Valencia, and he only just returned to training today.
However, his appearance at the Cuidad Deportivo session is being hailed as a “green light” by Barcelona-based daily Sport, and although manager Ernesto Valverde hasn’t confirmed his starting eleven, the signs are promising for the 31-year-old.
“The most important thing is the player telling you that he is ready,” Valverde said. “No matter what the tests say, if the player doesn’t feel ready, you have to leave him out. If he tells you he’s OK, you talk to the doctors and then you take the decision, the pros and cons.
“I am not in favor of taking risks if there are lots of games ahead as there is risk of injury; in a match like tomorrow you can’t play with a broken hand, for instance. If he’s fit, he’ll be on the list; if he’s not, he won’t.”
The squad lists for the match have just been announced, and Messi is among the 19 for Barça (although that means one of those named will still have to watch from the stands).
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 5, 2019
Messi’s importance in the fixture cannot be overstated. He’s the leading scorer in Clásico history with 26 goals. He’s also the leading provider with 14. Barcelona’s the four-time defending champions of the Copa, and the Blaugrana overturned a 2-0 quarterfinal first leg deficit against Sevilla to get here.
Barcelona’s won the Copa a record 30 times. Real Madrid has the third-most titles with 19, but its last victory in the contest came back in 2014. You might remember the winning goal from that game…
Ousmane Dembélé will miss the match as he’s battling tonsillitis, and Barcelona Copa goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will miss out with a muscle injury (but it’s never a bad thing to welcome Marc-André ter Stegen back into the fold).
As for Real Madrid, Keylor Navas is the Copa keeper and will start over Thibaut Courtois. The squad is pretty much entirely healthy, meaning that Santiago Solari will only be left with tactical decisions: Does he start Vinicius Jr. or Gareth Bale? Does Marcelo return on the left side of defense or will it be Sergio Reguilón?
Don't miss it by figuring out how to watch it below.
How To Watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid 2019 Copa del Rey Semifinal First Leg
- Date: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019
- Location: Camp Nou, Barcelona
- Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
- TV: beIN SPORTS USA or beIN SPORTS en Español
- Stream: fuboTV or Sling TV or beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A.