Probable Barcelona XI vs Real Madrid: Key decision for Valverde, strong line-up touted

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Barcelona host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday night, with all eyes on Lionel Messi.

As noted by the Independent, the 31-year-old has been an injury doubt for the Catalan giants in the lead up to the showdown with their bitter rivals.

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Having been seen training with the rest of the group on Tuesday coupled with the fact that he was named in the squad, it does seem as though the Argentine talisman is ready to feature, but time will tell if coach Ernesto Valverde avoids taking any potential risk of aggravating the issue that he picked up against Valencia last weekend.

Nevertheless, according to Mundo Deportivo, as seen in their probable line-up below, it’s suggested that Messi will start along Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho in an attacking trident, with Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Arthur forming the three-man midfield behind them.

It’s a relatively familiar looking backline too, with Marc Andre ter Stegen between the posts, and Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba in front of him.

In turn, should that be the XI that Valverde goes with, he’s clearly taking no chances and is ready to put out his strongest line-up possible to ensure that Barcelona are in the best position to take an advantage into the second leg at the Bernabeu on February 27.

However, until the official team-sheet is revealed, the focus will be on whether or not Messi starts the game and is capable of putting in another mesmerising performance having already scored 29 goals and provided 17 assists in just 27 appearances so far this season.

Probable XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Coutinho. (via Mundo Deportivo).

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