Barcelona's Lionel Messi faces fitness race ahead of Copa Clasico

Ruben Holloway
February 4, 2019

Barcelona's winning streak in La Liga ended at eight matches and they lead second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points, before their closest challengers visit Real Betis on Sunday.

Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that Lionel Messi will be assessed by Barcelona's medical staff after taking a knock in the 2-2 draw against Valencia.

Valencia coach Marcelino looked on the positive side despite allowing a two-goal lead to slip.

Sergi Roberto hit the post and Messi nearly equalised with a superb volley on the run as Barcelona began to dominate.

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He has now scored in 8 consecutive La Liga matches for the third time.

Messi took his tally to 11 in the past nine matches in all competitions, passing 20 league goals for the 11th successive season.

Jordi Alba replaced Nelson Semedo at the break as Barcelona upped their game at the start of the second stanza.

Los Che almost stunned the hosts after Daniel Parejo forced Marc Andre Ter Stegen to a low save, with the rebound shot from Denis Cheryshev hitting the face of the post.

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With centre-back Gerard Pique off the pitch having a head injury treated, Sergi Roberto sent Daniel Wass tumbling as they challenged for Cheryshev's cross and Parejo converted from the spot.

And in the 65th minute Barcelona level the scores after Messi's wonderful strike from the edge of the box rested in the bottom corner of Valencia.

Although Messi returned to the pitch minutes later, he looked to be in some discomfort, but Valverde is not fearing the worst, suggesting that the player could still be available for Wednesday's crucial first-leg semi-final tie against rivals Los Blancos.

Barca fans have a taste for comebacks and they started the second half with Messi immediately threatening at goal. Fourth-place Sevilla has won only one of its last six league games.

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Real Sociedad defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to deal their northern Basque Country rivals a first defeat in seven games since the arrival of coach Gaizka Garitano in December.

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