Barcelona: Koeman's Super Cup plans depend on Messi
The coach's tactics in tomorrow's final against Athletic will depend on Messi, who will travel to Seville with the squad but is doubtful for the game.
Leo Messi will be part of the Barça squad which will travel down to Seville this morning ahead of tomorrow's Spanish Super Cup final. The Argentinean, who is suffering problems with his left hamstring, didn't train yesterday and will face a late fitness test. Whether he plays or not will condition Ronald Koeman's tactical plans against Athletic. Just 10 days ago, Messi played a key role in the league win over the Bilbainos, he scored two goals and was only denied a hat trick by the woodwork. His movement between lines alongside Pedri was pivotal in dismantling Marcelino's 4-4-2 set-up, but the Athletic coach is sure to have learned his lesson and will change his strategy against Barça at La Cartuja tomorrow.
Messi has scored 26 goals in 38 games against Athletic and he has also played a decisive part in finals. In 2009, he hit the winner in the final against Valencia. Three years after that, he was instrumental in the team's victory at the Calderón and in 2015, he scored an unforgettable goal in the final at Camp Nou.
Silverware up for grabs
Sunday's final will give Messi the chance to secure his 35th trophy with Barcelona and it's hard to see him not being included in the squad. Whether he plays or not is another thing entirely. There is a risk that he could aggravate his muscular injury and Barça cannot afford to be without him during a relentless fixtures calendar. In LaLiga, he will be needed in upcoming games against Elche, Athletic, Betis, Alavés, Cádiz and Sevilla. And in the Champions League, Barcelona face PSG at Camp Nou in a month's time. And not forgetting the Copa del Rey tie against Cornellà. Koeman won't take any risks with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner - but there is another trophy at stake...
If Messi plays, Braithwaite will revert back to the bench. If Messi starts as a sub, the Danish striker will line up alongside Pedri. Koeman's other doubt is who to field at right-back. Dest appears to have recovered from the injury he suffered against Granada, but Mingueza did well in last week's semi-final and Koeman may decide to keep him in the team. Otherwise, the coach is expected to field a similar side to the one which beat Real Sociedad.
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