Lionel Messi is facing a race against time to be fit for Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final between Barcelona and Athletic in Seville.
The captain was forced to miss Wednesday’s semi-final against Real Sociedad due to injury which Barca won 3-2 on penalties after the game finished level at 1-1 after extra-time.
Messi did not take part in the team’s training session on Friday and instead continued his recovery work alone, according to Javier Miguel at AS. The captain has a minor hamstring injury and is said to be a “serious doubt” for the game.
Barcelona announced on Friday that the whole squad will travel to Seville on Saturday and train at La Cartuja Stadium in the evening. Ronald Koeman will not name his 20-man squad for the match until after the session.
All of which means that Messi does still have time to prove his fitness for the game, but it’s unlikely Koeman will risk his captain unless he’s 100 percent fit.
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Koeman to Win First Trophy?
The Catalan giants will of course be hoping to have their skipper available for the match which sees Koeman go in search of his first trophy since taking over as Barcelona manager from Quique Setien in the summer.
Barca met Athletic just over a week ago in La Liga and won 3-2 at San Mames. Messi scored twice in the win, leaving Marcelino to admit after the game the captain had been the difference between the two sides, as reported by Sport.
I take two positives. These first 20 minutes and the satisfaction of the team working and trying with the score against them. That tells me the boys want it and that the team will improve.
Before the game it passed through my head that I hoped Messi was not at his top level the day I returned to coaching, but that’s how it was. In some moments we could have done a bit more to stop him, but he was the most decisive player in the game.
The match was Marcelino’s first since taking over as Athletic boss. His second was Thursday’s Super Cup semi-final against Real Madrid which the Basque side won 2-1 to set up Sunday’s big match.
Barca will be favorites but Athletic have good memories of their last Spanish Super Cup final. Los Leones ended a 31-year wait for a trophy when they recorded a shock 5-1 aggregate win over the Catalan giants in 2015.
Athletic Defender Hoping to Avoid Messi
Athletic defender Inigo Martinez has already admitted he is hopeful that the Barcelona captain will not be back from injury in time for Sunday’s match.
The center-back spoke of his delight at beating Real Madrid after Thursday’s win and also looked forward to Sunday’s final, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
We feel immense joy after suffering so much. The work is there, we have fought to the end, but with effort and sacrifice we are in another final. Very happy and now it’s time to rest. It will be a tough game against a great rival. Hopefully Leo does not arrive and thus we will have more options.
Striker Martin Braithwaite came in for Messi against Real Sociedad and is the most likely player to continue in the starting XI if the Argentina international is ruled out because of injury.