Lionel Messi is in line to make his long-awaited return for Barcelona this week and could feature in tomorrow's Copa del Rey clash against Getafe.
The Argentinian has been missing with a thigh injury since November but is now back in training and took part in a full session alongside his team-mates yesterday morning.
Gerardo Martino may well choose to save the 26-year-old for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with Atletico Madrid but, regardless of his exact return, the coach is excited to the have him available.
“The best player in the world will have an impact on the team. We’ll be even better,” he told www.barcelona. com.
If Martino decides that tomorrow is too early for Messi, then he still has a host of attacking options to choose from like Alexis Sanchez, who scored a hat-trick against Elche, or Pedro, who netted his fifth goal in three matches, or Neymar, who started on the bench.
Atletico in action
The Last-16 action starts today with defending champions Atletico taking on Valencia before the crucial league visit of Barca. Diego Simeone’s men are level with the Catalans at the top of the division.
But Simeone is refusing to get carried away and still believes that ending the dominance of city-rivals Real and Barca will be a huge ask for his team.
“It would be so much nicer to be in this position at the end of the season but there’s a long journey ahead,” he told his club’s website.
“We must begin to look at Valencia with a new manager, it will be complicated. And then there’s another big game at the Calderon next week. I am consistent with what I said. Look what it costs us to win a game.
There is a huge difference between Real and Barcelona and for us it is the effort that we are trying to fight. But we cannot go further because they have more possibilities (squad-wise).”