Leo Messi was rested against Levante last weekend, a game that ended in an extraordinary 5-4 win for the Frogs, and played just 15 minutes of the midweek friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns due to a contractual arrangement, and the Argentinean was expected to be handed Sunday evening off for the visit of Real Sociedad after a long season and with the World Cup around the corner.
Messi to come off the bench to replace Iniesta
However, Messi has been included in Ernesto Valverde’s squad for the game at Camp Nou in what will prove to be a symbolic handing over of the torch in Andrés Iniesta’s final game for the club. Messi will assume the captaincy of Barcelona when the 33-year-old midfielder leaves at the end of the season and it is probable that he will be named among the substitutes so that he can come off the bench to replace Iniesta and receive the armband from the outgoing midfielder.
Samuel Umtiti has also been included after recovering from injury but the suspended Sergi Roberto and the injured Thomas Vermaelen both miss out. Paulinho has also asked his manager to be spared the fixture with the World Cup in mind after playing considerably more than he might have expected to this season after his summer move from Guangzhou Evergrande.