Valverde: "Messi will start if he feels ok tomorrow"
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says he is not planning to rotate his team tomorrow at San Mamés: “We'll be playing with everyone who's fit”.
Ernesto Valverde took questions from the media thios afternoon to preview tomorrow's away trip to his old club, Athletic Club on the day of his 55th birthday.
How do you envisage the game going?
Every game at San Mamés is complicated and tomorrow's will be especially difficult. We know how Athletic play. It's always tough when Barça play in Bilbao. There is great pressure from the stands. Athletic try to push you back into your half and keep you there and that will make it difficult for us to play our game. It's going to be an attractive game to watch as it always is - it's one of the toughest games we have left in the calendar.
Messi at San Mamés
What's the situation with Messi?
As always, before a training session, we have to wait to make a decision. The other day we didn't want to risk him and we're in a similar situation as regards to tomorrow's game. Much of it will depend on what he says. He's fine but if he's at 100 per cent as he has been on other occasions then he'll play. If he's feeling ok, he'll play and if not then we'll have to make a decision.
What does Arthur's absence mean to the team?
We've lost a player who gives us control of the game but you can't avoid injuries over the course of the season. We were without him in November and we had alternatives. We have Aleñá who more attacking than Arturo. It'll depend on how the game is going. Coutinho is another option and we'll decide depending on how the game goes.
How are Dembélé and Umtiti doing?
Umtiti completed the first part of yesterday's training session and we want him to continue doing more. Dembélé's injury wasn't as serious and we'll decide today whether he's able to play or not.