The big news ahead of the Catalan derby between Espanyol and Barcelona was Barcelona's rotations, in particular Leo Messi being left on the bench. The Barça striker had not missed a kick in LaLiga this season, disputing 1,890 minutes and scoring 20 goals in the process. However, Barça coach Ernesto Valverde had other ideas for the derby, possibly in view of Real Madrid's latest slip-up on Saturday night.
Valverde's management of Messi's playing time has been hotly debated in recent weeks, with Messi himself claiming he had no problem with being rested. That said, since 11 January the Barça forward has played every single minute of Barcelona's matches in LaLiga, and was only subbed in the 59th minute of Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash against Celta when the tie was already over.
'La Pulga' has only been left out on two other occasions this term: in the Champions League, first against Juventus in Turin, and the against Sporting Lisbon in the Camp Nou. In total Messi has missed 438 minutes in 34 offical matches, and with this being a World Cup year and the fact he is the wrong side of 30, logic would dictate that the Argentine eases up on the time he spends on the pitch.