Lionel Messi is considered a major doubt to feature in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match against Real Madrid after the Barcelona star missed Monday’s training session with a thigh injury, according to Sam Marsden of ESPN FC.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde initially considered the injury – which occurred in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Valencia – to be minor and was optimistic Messi would play in El Clasico.
However, Messi still has pain in his thigh and will undergo tests Monday to determine the extent of the ailment. And with Barcelona facing a busy schedule in the coming weeks, Valverde won’t take any risks with Messi, according to Marsden’s report.
After Wednesday’s tie, Barcelona will take on Atletic Bilbao and then Valladolid before visiting France for their first leg against Lyon in the Champions League round of 16 on Feb. 19. Afterward, Valverde’s men will visit Sevilla before playing a pair of matches at the Santiago Bernabeu – in the Copa del Rey and the league.
Messi, whose brace in Saturday’s draw brought him to a league-leading 21 goals on the season, missed the season’s first Clasico in October because of an elbow injury.
Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele returned to Barcelona training Monday, two weeks after suffering an ankle injury. However, it’s unknown if the French winger will be available for Wednesday’s match against Real Madrid.