Lionel Messi has given Barcelona a boost ahead of the Spanish Super Cup final by returning to full training after being sidelined with a leg injury.
The captain took part in the team’s session on Saturday evening at the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville and looked in good shape after missing the semi-final win over Real Sociedad.
Messi also took part in Sunday morning’s activation session as Ronald Koeman’s men finalizec their preparations for the match.
Koeman said in his pre-match press conference that he hoped Messi would be able to take part in the match but that the final decision would be made by the captain on Sunday morning.
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Messi Tipped to Start
It’s still unclear if Messi will be fit enough to take his place in the starting XI against Athletic, but Barcelona will of course be hoping he is passed fit for the match. The Argentine scored twice in a 3-2 win over the Basque side in La Liga at the start of the month.
Journalist Adrià Albets at Cadena SER has reported that Messi has decided he wants to play and will take his place in the starting XI. If Messi does feature then it’s likely striker Martin Braithwaite will drop down to the bench.
Messi was in great form until he was forced on to the sidelines. The Argentine has four goals in his last two games and has moved to the top of the goalscoring charts in La Liga with 11 for the season so far in 2020-21.
The View from Athletic
Athletic will be well aware of the threat that Messi poses, having experienced it at first hand once again just under two weeks ago at San Mames. Coach Marcelino is certainly expecting the 33-year-old to feature, as reported by Marca.
We have to play our way but [also] bearing in mind how our opponent plays. We won’t change the main aspects of our play and we won’t divert from our idea whether Leo is playing or not. His presence on the field limits our chances of winning, though. We’ll presume he’s going to play, that he’s going to be at his best and that we’ll have to stop him.
The Basque side have plenty of threats of their own, including striker Inaki Williams who was on target the last time the two sides met. The striker was also asked for his thoughts on Messi but insisted he was not bothered if the Barca captain is in the team or not, as reported by Marca.
I don’t care if Messi is playing or not because Barcelona are one of the best clubs in world football. We’re going to try to give them as difficult a game as possible. If they beat us, make sure they work for it.
Athletic saw off Real Madrid to secure their place in the final and will need no reminding they beat Barcelona 5-1 over two legs in their last appearance in the Super Cup final back in 2015.