Luis Enrique: Messi can handle Atlético yellow card situation

COPA | BARCELONA-ATLÉTICO

Luis Enrique: Messi can handle Atlético yellow card situation

Luis Enrique: Messi can handle Atlético yellow card situation

Fernando Zueras

The Barcelona manager spoke ahead of the Copa del Rey second leg and said that he wouldn't give away any hints on how he'd replace the suspended Neymar.

Barcelona - Atletico live

No booking concern going to stop the trio 

Luis Enrique says Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti will play as normal against Atletico Madrid despite being one booking away from missing a potential Copa del Rey final.

Messi looks to the heavens after scoring the second goal against Atlético in the first leg.

Three yellow cards over the course of the competition results in a one-game ban, leaving the three players - who all have two to their name - in a precarious situation ahead of the second leg of the semi-final with Atletico on Tuesday.

Barca lead the last-four tie 2-1 on aggregate, but are already without Neymar for the match at Camp Nou, who received his third yellow card of the tournament in the first leg. Luis Enrique, though, will play Messi, Alba and Umtiti without fear of them receiving a costly ban and does not expect the tense situation to affect their play.

Players can manage the situation

"No [it will not affect our approach to the game] because fortunately these players are very good at knowing the situation," the head coach said at his pre-match media conference. "I don't think it is going to affect how these players play in the game. The most important thing is to beat Atletico Madrid and get into the final. After that we will see what has happened, but I don't think it is going to play a role.

No Neymar, but no replacement hints

"There is nothing I can do to change Neymar being out – so [being frustrated] would be a waste of energy. I have fewer options at that position than midfield, although I do have some interesting players I can put there on the wing.

"But we are going to make the other coach [Diego Simeone] think about it and not give away who we are going to play there."

Key midfielders likely to still be missing

Sergio Busquets (ankle) and Andres Iniesta (calf) have missed four and five matches respectively but continue to train with the first team, while Gerard Pique (adductor) is recovering well after coming off in Saturday's 3-0 LaLiga win over Athletic Bilbao.

Piqué could be fit for the second leg.

Luis Enrique said: "Busquets and Iniesta are getting better every day, which is very positive news for us. It might be possible they play, but it could be that it doesn't happen. In principle Pique is much better too. I think the fact that he came out of the game before he got any worse worked out well.

"I think he is ready - we have one more day to go and a few more hours to rest. So we will see if he is in optimal condition to play."

Real Madrid, title rivals with match backlog

When asked about the potential influence of the two games in hand that Madrid now have he simply replied: "We have to win our games and I'm not going to say anything about our rivals".

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