Lionel Messi steps up training, might play part in El Clasico
Barcelona icon Lionel Messi has intensified his training ahead of El Clasico, which is set to be played this Saturday, Sky Sports reports.
The Argentine injured himself in September while representing the Blaugranas against Las Palmas. He suffered a tear to his medial collateral ligament and was expected to be out for 7-8 weeks. Messi gradually went through his recovery process and even vowed not to rush through it.
It would seem that the calculated approach to his rehabilitation process has bore fruit, both for him and the club as there is a small probability now that he will play some part against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu.
Messi has been training with the Barcelona-B team for the past week and coach Gerard Lopez was happy with his recovery.
"Leo completed the training sessions. I saw him well, and I'm happy that his recovery seems positive. I see him content and lively," said Lopez.
"For the youth players it was a great excitement to be able to train with the best player in history, although some often go up to train with the first team and are used to being with him.”
"Messi adapted to our training and that included joining in the tactical aspects to prepare for the game. I'm delighted that he could take advantage of the two sessions with us and didn't miss two days of work of his recovery.”
"I don't know if he'll be there on Saturday, but I see him well, content and I hope he can get back as soon as possible. It's a pity I couldn't call him up for our game," he added.
Having Messi in the team changes a lot: Adriano
On the other hand, Messi’s team-mate Adriano is confident that the 4-time Ballon D’Or winner will be back for the Clasico.
In an interview with Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, he said, “He is recovering very well, doing everything to get to the game and to have him in the team changes a lot. There's a difference when he plays or doesn't, but in his absence we've managed to come together and move forward in matches.
"Every day he's been the Leo we're accustomed to: laughing, joking, and doing things with confidence. Would I put money on him playing in the Clasico? Hopefully, yes."
After the Argentine’s injury, Barcelona’s form was expected to take a subsequent dip. However, the team, with Neymar and Luis Suarez in particular, have stepped up their game since and have taken over Messi’s role in some style.
The 28-year old has always been a standout performer in the Clasicos, he has scored 21 goals against arch-rivals Real Madrid.