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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has suggested he will rest Lionel Messi in the final weeks of the La Liga season and has played down fears the Argentina man will be jaded for the summer’s FIFA World Cup.
The Blaugrana have leaned heavily on Messi this season as they’ve made their way to the top of the table and into the final of the Copa del Rey.
Valverde said the 30-year-old will likely get time to put his feet up in the last weeks of 2017-18, but regardless, he’s confident the Argentinian should be in good shape for the summer’s showpiece in Russia.
“It’s a possibility that Messi rests, like others,” he said, per Xavi Hernandez of Marca. “There’s nothing to worry about, the other day he played a good game, and they’re calm in Argentina because Messi still has a lot of energy left for the World Cup.”
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As noted in the same report, Messi has been suffering with a knock, although he featured in matches against Sevilla, Leganes and Roma recently.
In a separate report from Hernandez, it’s said Barcelona are set to be without a number of key players on Tuesday for their meeting with Celta Vigo in La Liga.
Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are injured, while Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique will be rested. The Blaugrana head to Balaidos seeking to continue their impeccable campaign in the Spanish top flight, having gone through 32 games unbeaten so far.
As noted by Squawka Football, their streak of 39 games in the top flight without defeat is a new record:
Squawka Football @Squawka
RECORD: Barcelona have now gone 39 games without losing in LaLiga; the longest unbeaten run in the competition’s history. WWWWWWWWWWWWWWDWWWWDDWWWWWWWDDWWDWWWDWW 🔵🔴 https://t.co/fkUtIu2AOE
The form of Messi has been so important to that remarkable run and what’s set to be another La Liga title for the team.
After Neymar’s departure in the summer, there was always going to be more responsibility thrust upon the Barcelona legend this season. So much goes through Messi in Barca’s attacking mechanisms.
This season, Messi has scored 29 goals and has laid on 12 assists in 31 appearances in the top flight.
As noted by Goal, his set-piece prowess has stood out this term for Barcelona:
Goal UK @GoalUK
Lionel Messi is the first player to score six direct free-kick goals in a single La Liga season since Ronaldinho in 2006/07 (6) He is the first player to score from outside the box in six consecutive Liga games since at least 2003/04 (six goals) 😳 https://t.co/SM3PjdtgR9
Barcelona’s elimination from the UEFA Champions League in shock circumstances at the hands of Roma in the recent quarter-final showdown means the campaign has the potential to finish on something of a low. But Valverde may yet earn a double in his first season.
Barca will be desperate to go through the rest of the La Liga season unbeaten, but there are still some difficult fixtures for them to negotiate, starting with Tuesday’s match in Galicia against a dangerous Celta side. They also still have Real Madrid to meet on May 6.
Messi and Co. also have the chance to win the Copa del Rey and will face Sevilla in the final of the competition on Saturday.