Messi included in Barca squad but Valverde will not take risks

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The five-time Ballon d'Or victor sustained a knock to his thigh in the LaLiga table-toppers' 2-2 draw with Valencia over the weekend, but resumed training on Tuesday, a day before the clash against his club's biggest rivals. Valverde said he would wait to make a decision but optimisim is increasing at the Camp Nou ahead of the game on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi is ready to stage a comeback from a knock and tackle Real Madrid on Wednesday night after completing Barcelona's training session on Tuesday.

Barcelona have confirmed their players will wear shirts featuring Chinese characters when they take on Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.

"I hope not, although it is curious to say the least", Solari said.

It was an unusual delay by the club, which normally is quick to release reports about its players' injuries. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach".

"Players with an injury are playing with the handbrake on". Bale returned as a starter on Sunday alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior as Alaves was beaten 3-0 in the Spanish league, the team's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

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There is little doubt Benzema will start, as he has six goals in the last four matches.

But everyone is well aware of the fact that the rest of players in the world are behind Leo Messi and can not possibly cover the impact of Argentinian talisman. The 18-year-old Brazilian has added flair to the attack.

Their 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid earlier in the campaign led to Julen Lopetegui losing his job as coach just months after taking over.

Valverde said his team won't change the way it plays if Messi is absent, and that his participation shouldn't be seen as a key factor.

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be fit for the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Against Sevilla, they went all out last week to claim a 6-1 win and turn a first leg's deficit in the Copa del Rey, whereas over the weekend, they had to come from two goals down to pick up a point against a resolute Valencia side.

"In a semifinal between Barca and Madrid there's no favourite".

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