Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde faced the media to look ahead to tomorrow night's trip to Sevilla. Inevitably, he was asked about Leo Messi's fitness but rejected the idea that the club forced the player to sit out Argentina's recent friendlies: “He has been experiencing a few niggles, he could have suffered a tear and it's just not worth the risk”.
Champions League quarter finals
Sevilla play their Champions League game a day earlier, could that affect them?
No, I'm not expecting Sevilla to rotate their team - after having experience of meeting them in similar circumstances in other seasons. They don't tend to change their team around, even though they are playing twice a week. They will make at least one change though as Sarabia can't play but otherwise, we're expecting the usual side. This is an important game for them because they are quite far off fourth place now but they have teams who are close to them such as Girona and Betis who could knock them out of the European places. It's true that we both have ties on Tuesday and Wednesday which might divert attention away from this game. But for us, this is a key game. Being able to win there, at a very difficult ground, would be amassive step for us towards winning the league. We'll see. It's going to be an attractive game because there's a lot at stake for both of us.
Will Messi make the trip?
We decided to wait and see how he is in this evening's session. We are looking after him in excatly the same way he was looked after with his national team. He's had a few twinges but it's not worth risking him with the chance he could get a tear.
Are you worried about his fitness with the month of key games coming up?
I'd much rather he didn't have any aches and pains but players are used to carrying these kinds of problems during much of the season. I'm sure we will have other problems to dea with after tomorrow's game. Right now, we'll see how he is in training.
Will Wednesday's game against Roma affect your decision on Messi?
We have planned for tomorrow's game independently of Wednesday's match but you also need to have a short term plan, looking ahead one or two weeks. Tomorrow's match is important - but so are our next few games.
Fingers crossed when players are on international duty
The international break came at a bad time for many clubs, should some national teams have taken more care with players?
Sometimes you have to put yourself into someone else's shoes and the coaches who are in charge of their national teams have the World Cup to prepare for and this is one of the last chances they will have to try new things out. We haven't pressurized anyone - or any coaches. As for players on international duty, you always have your fingers crossed, hoping what happened to Digne doesn't happen to your players.
Is tomorrow's clash at Sevilla the team's most difficult away trip from the games that remain?
I don't like to talk in those terms because in a couple of weeks' time we have to go to Vigo and then Levante and Depor who are battling to avoid relegation; but Sevilla are a tough team at home, they are a great side and always very difficult to beat.