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Football news - Lionel Messi only fit for bench as Malcom starts in cup Clasico

Messi only fit for bench as Malcom starts in cup Clasico

07/02/2019 at 01:55Updated 07/02/2019 at 03:33

Lionel Messi has been named as a substitute for Barcelona's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg clash against rivals Real Madrid.

The 31-year-old suffered a thigh injury during the Catalan club's 2-2 La Liga draw at home to Valencia on Saturday.

Messi's fitness was the main concern for Barcelona ahead of the Copa Clasico but he failed to be deemed fit enough to start. Summer transfer Malcom replaces the Argentine as Ousmane Dembele is unable to recover from a hamstring injury.

Barca manager Ernesto Valverde has made four more changes to his starting eleven, including two in defence. Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba come in for Thomas Vermaelen and Sergi Roberto.

The midfield is strengthened with regulars Sergio Busquets and Arthur returning for the Clasico to replace Carles Alena and Arturo Vidal.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari fields a strong line-up, making seven changes ahead of their trip to Camp Nou.

Cup goalkeeper Keylor Navas replaces Thibaut Courtois between the sticks, with the defensive trio Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Marcelo strengthening the backline.

Toni Kroos and Diego Llorente come into the centre of midfield as Brazilian Casemiro drops to the bench.

The attack sees Gareth Bale replaced by Lucas Vazquez following the Welshman's recent return from injury, while 18-year-old Vinicius Junior keeps his place in the team after his goal against Alaves on Sunday night.

TEAM NEWS IN FULL

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Arthur, Rakitic, Malcom, Coutinho, Suarez. Subs: Pena, Murillo, Alena, Roberto, Vidal, Boateng, Messi.

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Llorente, Kroos, Modric, Vazquez, Vinicius Jr, Benzema. Subs: Courtois, Nacho, Bale, Casemiro, Asensio, Isco, Ceballos.

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