Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid's Copa del Rey clash, saying that Messi's inclusion will depend on how he fares in the final training session.
El Clásico: “We’re playing the Clásico twice over and it's a special game. They are a serious opponent and that gives you even more incentive to reach the final. I guess it's the same for them.”
How is Messi? "There is one training session left. We’ll see how he is, if he can complete it and if he’s fit… depending on the training, we will decide.”
How do the prospects of the game change if Messi is there or not? "I don’t think they change. There is no favourite in a semi-final between Barça and Madrid. It's an open tie, we have very good players. We have the one that we think is the best player in the world and they also have great players. If Messi’s fit he’ll play. If not, he won’t.”
These two games will take their toll. It will be necessary to tread carefully in making up a team tomorrow that doesn’t suffer in the league: "The calendar is very complicated at this stage. It is already complicated in January. And now with this semi-final, which is two games at a very high level, plus the league, it is clear that we have to tread carefully. We are at a decisive stage.”
Real Madrid’s complaints about the schedule: "The calendar is tight for everyone. Sometimes some have a chance to rest more days, sometimes others have the chance. Against Sevilla we had fewer days. In another game it would be them who would have fewer days. Sometimes, they are at a disadvantage, other times it is us. Today Madrid are complaining about it; tomorrow it will be Valencia; next it will be us.”
Barcelona’s 5-1 defeat of Madrid in October as a reference: "State of humour counts and so much so. They usually play well here. They arrived here in October in a somewhat bad place, and we are expecting the best version of Madrid [on Wednesday].”
Arthur: "The players are the ones who set the style of play. That's why he came here, so that the style lives on. He's secure on the ball and he always wants the ball. He fits the philosophy of our game very well and we want it to continue for much longer.”
Coutinho: "He is a playmaker and he can play in attack and in the middle. We play with players who can cut inside from wide positions. He's versatile and can play in that role."
Dembélé: "He worked separately yesterday but will train with the group today, we'll see how he goes.”
Cillessen: "The day he got injured, he was upset. He was very excited about the semi-finals. With time he’ll get through it. He has to recover. He was at a great level [before the injury]. These muscle issues are unexpected."
Suarez: "He’s a sure thing in many ways and he connects very well with Lionel. When they play together they know what the other one will do. If one of them doesn’t play, they both know the mechanisms. These small partnerships make teams work."
Arturo Vidal: "Having experience is always a bonus and having youth is also good for other things. We must attack and defend well and he always gives us things".
Vinicius: “He has self-confidence, pace, and he’s not afraid to take on opponents. He's progressing very well at Madrid.”