AFP – Lionel Messi, stretchered off against Benfica in midweek, is set to feature for Barcelona in the Spanish league leaders game at Real Betis on Sunday.
The Argentine, who suffered bruising to the left knee in Wednesday’s Champions League tie, came through a training session unscathed on Saturday to leave him clear to play some part in Sunday’s match.
Messi needs just one more goal to draw level with Gerd Mueller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year in 1972.
Barcelona, in a statement on their website, reported: “After training with the rest of the team on Saturday Leo Messi will be included in the squad against Betis.”
Coach Tito Vilanova added: “If he is travelling, that means he can play, that he’s fine.
“There are still 24 hours (before kick-off), we’ll see. But if there’d been the slightest risk (of the injury flaring up again) he wouldn’t be travelling, there’s no risk….”
The league leaders go to Seville looking to defend a six-point advantage over Atletico Madrid and 11 over Real Madrid at the scene of the latter’s latest upset a fortnight ago.
Messi came on in the 58th minute of Wednesday’s tie only to collide with Benfica goalkeeper Artur Moraes six minutes from time.
The sight of their star player being stretchered off the pitch silenced the Barca fans, but there was relief soon after with the club confirming the injury was no worse than a bruised left knee.