Barcelona sweating on Lionel Messi fitness ahead of Sevilla trip

Barcelona sweating on Lionel Messi fitness ahead of Sevilla trip

Lionel Messi remains an injury doubt as LaLiga leaders Barcelona bid to take a another big step towards a possible treble with victory at Sevilla on Saturday.

Messi sat out both Argentina's international friendlies due to a minor hamstring problem and although he returned to training on Thursday, coach Ernesto Valverde will delay naming his side.

"We are taking care of Messi, because he has a minor annoyance," Valverde told a press conference. "We have to see how (Friday's) training is going."

Messi is determined to be injury-free as Barca embark on a hectic April fixture schedule.

Valverde's side face seven games in 22 days, including their two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Roma and the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla on April 21.

"We are where we wanted to be," Valverde said. "We have players to face the final stretch of the season. It will be a decisive month.

"(Saturday) is a key game. A victory would mean a lot in order to be able to win the title."

Both sides will have one eye on the first leg of their Champions League ties on Tuesday, when Sevilla take on Bayern Munich at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and Barcelona face Roma at the Nou Camp.

"I expect a Sevilla without many rotations, although they have a Champions League game. There are three important points to win (on Saturday)," Valverde added.

We plan to not think too much about the game against Roma. We first focus on Sevilla.

Valverde confirmed injured midfielder Sergio Busquets will definitely miss out, but is expected to return in time to face Roma.

Sevilla boss Vincenzo Montella, who will be without suspended midfielder Pablo Sarabia, has no intention of adapting his side's style of play for Barca's visit.

"We'll play our own way, with our characteristics," the former Italy international said. "We'd go crazy if we changed our way of playing.

"We'll try and have as much possession as possible because if they have it, it could be more complicated."

Sevilla, who qualified for the Champions League by finishing fourth in LaLiga last season, are 14 points adrift of the side which currently holds that spot, Valencia.

- PA

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