Messi Named in Barcelona Squad for Copa Clasico

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Early goals from Valencia saw them into 2-0 first-half lead at against Barcelona in the last weekend.

"If La Liga ended tomorrow or if it was our last game, maybe [I would take a risk]. but if a player has an injury, whether it's Messi or not, I prefer to be careful".

Although Messi has been deemed fit enough to be in the squad, there is no place for winger Ousmane Dembele.

Clement Lenglet is expected to get the nod over Thomas Vermaelen, while we should see Jordi Alba and Arthur return to the team.

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"El Clasico does not change without Messi; in a semi-final between Barca and Madrid there is no favourite, it is an open tie, we have good players, they too", he said.

While Barcelona remain silent about Lionel Messi's health, Real Madrid's only concern is who to leave out for their Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on Wednesday. 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 2 March, both at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Valverde said he would make a final decision on Messi after consulting with the player and the club's medical team. The Argentine trained with his teammates in the last session ahead of the game at 21:00 at the Camp Nou.

Having a player of Lionel Messi's extraterrestrial caliber at one's disposal is obviously a privilege but rest of the Barcelona teammates needs to share responsibilities at crunch times.

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Valverde admitted he might have to rotate his line-up given the number of important games coming up.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed he would contact Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez before swooping to sign misfit Isco. "We are in a decisive part of the season".

It's not been an easy season for Real Madrid and Karim Benzema has been the focus for a lot of criticism, but he has improved a lot lately, scoring many goals, so Barca will need to be careful as he arrives in extremely confident form.

"Cristiano is the best player in the world because Messi is playing another sport", he said.

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