Lionel MESSI double secures draw for FC Barcelona against Valencia

Barcelona 2-2 Valencia Every player rated from a thrilling draw at Camp Nou

Lionel MESSI double secures draw for FC Barcelona against Valencia

They also face a tricky Champions League last-16 tie with Ajax later this spring.

Messi, 31, injured his thigh during the weekend's draw with Valencia and was unable to train on Monday.

Ousmane Dembélé, who recently recovered from an ankle injury and is now battling tonsilitis also trained having worked out on his own on Monday.

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"I don't think it changes anything", he added when asked how a hypothetical Messi absence could influence proceedings.

Nonetheless, a fit and available Messi is clearly preferable for the La Liga leaders who are giving their captain the time he needs to to prove his fitness.

Whether it's a sign of defiance or just tempting fate, manager Santiago Solari says he hopes Messi is fit for the first leg.

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'The most important thing is whether the player tells you he is ready or not. If he's in good shape, he'll play on Wednesday.

The ex-Ajax ace has yet to score against Madrid in cup competitions, though, firing blanks in both legs of the Supercopa last season, despite playing a full part in both matches. "The calendar is very complicated", he said.

Solari did not want to generate more noise than necessary by leaving out two players, and he will instead make his decision two hours before the game, which is when he will announce the starting line-up prior to Madrid travelling to the Camp Nou. Although the statistic is quite staggering, Ernesto Valverde, will be wary of what the over dependency on one man can cost as we progress to the end of the season.

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Barcelona's winning streak in La Liga ended at eight matches and they lead second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points, before their closest challengers visit Real Betis on Sunday. They appear a team transformed since the 5-1 defeat by Barca in October. "In October they were going through a delicate period but now they are better. We expect the best version of Madrid on Wednesday, as we have seen in recent weeks".

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