Lionel Messi skipped Barcelona training on Wednesday to do specific work in the gym but his absence has been played down by the defending Spanish champions.
Quique Setien’s side are gearing up for La Liga’s restart with an away match at Real Mallorca on June 13. The first-team undertook their third training session of the week on Wednesday, but one notable absentee was their captain.
Angel Perez at Mundo Deportivo said Messi was in the gym as part of a training plan and not because he had suffered an injury. Sport offered a similar report and added that Barcelona have offered reassurance he is fine and was simply following a specific plan.
The Barcelona players will have the day off on Thursday and return to full training at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper again on Friday.
Messi Still Crucial to Barcelona’s Title Hopes
Messi may celebrate his 33rd birthday later this month but he still remains absolutely crucial to Barcelona’s hopes of success this season. The Argentine leads the goals and assists charts in La Liga in 2019-20 and has looked razor-sharp in training.
The Argentina international has also spoken recently about how feels about returning to action after a break of almost three months due to Covid-19.
Messi also wrote a defiant message on Instagram: “Let’s take the opportunity to continue training, to refuel, to continue striving, and give our best. We will return to the pitch, and give it everything.”
Barcelona will restart their title defense on top of the table, two points clear of eternal rivals Real Madrid with 11 games left to play.
Expect a Hectic End to the Season
La Liga president Javier Tebas has said he wants the campaign to end on the weekend of 18-19th July which should make for a hectic end to the season.
Barcelona’s trip to Real Mallorca will be swiftly followed by a visit from Leganes three days later. Indeed the plan is for a La Liga game on every day of the week in order finish the campaign on time.
Teams will be allowed to make up to five substitutes when the tournament restarts which may help reduce some of the burden on players, although Barcelona manager Quique Setien is not a fan of the new rule.
He explained why the rule change could hurt his team in a Youtube chat with the Las Palmas Inter-Island Soccer Federation, as shared by Sport.
“Five substitutions per team? I do not know if it will harm us or benefit us. I think it will harm us, because of our way of playing. We know that many games we will resolve in the final minutes. If you give an opponent the option of fresh players coming out in that time, the weakness that is generated with tired players will not occur.”
Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde in the Barcelona hot seat in January and has won eight, drawn one and lost three of his 12 games in charge in all competitions.