Lionel Messi starts on bench for Barcelona's Copa del Rey Clasico vs. Real Madrid
Lionel Messi is on the bench for Barcelona's Copa del Rey semifinal first-leg match against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Messi, 31, injured his thigh during the weekend's draw with Valencia and was unable to train on Monday. However, he completed Tuesday's session and was named among the 19 players called up for the first leg of the semifinal tie at Camp Nou.
Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said he would not put the five-time Ballon d'Or winner at risk if he felt he could further injure himself and added he would make a final decision on Messi after consulting with the player and the club's medical team.
Valverde went on to refute the claim that Messi's presence would have a major impact on the game. The Argentine is the top scorer in La Liga with 21 goals and has scored in his last nine appearances, but Barca beat Madrid 5-1 without him earlier this season.
However, when the team sheets came out ahead of Wednesday's clash, Messi was not included in the Barca XI, making way for summer signing Malcom.