Ronald Koeman offered an update on Barcelona captain Lionel Messi’s fitness ahead of the Spanish Super Cup final against Athletic on Sunday in Seville.
The Argentina international missed the semi-final win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday because of a leg injury and also sat out the team’s training session on Friday. Yet Koeman told a pre-match press conference on Saturday he is hopeful Messi could play.
Leo trained individually yesterday. We train today at six, he’ll train and we’ll see. We’ll see what he thinks, whether he thinks he’s ready or not. The player will have the last word, as always, he knows his body better than anybody else. We’ll have to see tomorrow morning how his body reacts, but we hope he can be ready for the game.
Koeman was also asked if he would be willing to risk Messi for the game even if the 33-year-old was not quite 100 percent ready to make his first-team return.
Every player needs to be 100 percent to start the game because it’s not the last game of the season, we still have a lot of games after this one. It’s about the risk but the final decision will be by the player. We now have our training session. He will get his feeling about his body, about if he can start or not. Then we will speak and make the decision tomorrow morning.
Messi was replaced by striker Martin Braithwaite against Real Sociedad, and the Denmark international is the favorite to continue if the captain is not deemed fit enough to play.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Messi Important for Morale
Barcelona will obviously want to have Messi available for Sunday’s match as Koeman goes in search of his first trophy as manager of the club. The Dutchman explained how important it is for team morale to have Messi in the starting XI.
Of course, if you can play with the best players it gives you more of a chance to win, that’s the way it is. We’re talking about the best player in the world and if he’s not there we’ll be missing something. We hope he’s there because the team is stronger with him.
Messi scored twice when Barcelona played Athletic in La Liga just over a week ago. Pedri was also on target as the Catalan giants enjoyed an impressive 3-2 victory at San Mames.
Koeman Ready for Athletic Test
The recent win over Athletic will give Barcelona confidence ahead of the game, and Koeman thinks another victory on Sunday will prove his team are on the right track and offer his players a further morale boost ahead of the second half of the season.
It’s important because it’s a final, there’s a title in play. And it’s important to win. It’s not the most important title to play for but it is a title. And every title you can sign your name too, that’s something, for the players, coaches and the club too.
I think if we win it will obviously confirm we are on the right path, but it’s not the most decisive thing for our season. As far as confidence is concerned, and to confirm we are improving, yes it’s another chance to show we are a strong team, a team that battles, like in the last few games, that we are committed. We will have to be committed because we are going to face a tough opponent who will be firing on all cylinders.
Athletic head into the match after an impressive 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the semi-finals on Thursday. Two goals from Raul Garcia handed the Basque side victory and a chance to lift a first trophy since they won the Super Cup in 2015.