- Lionel Messi will start against Man Utd after missing weekend La Liga game against Huesca due to an injury at Old Trafford
- Smalling handed Messi a bloody nose and swollen eye after clattering into the Barcelona star
- Ousmane Dembele is also expected to play a role for Barcelona at the Camp Nou
Lionel Messi will return to Barcelona starting XI in their Champions League quarter-final reverse tie against Manchester United on Tuesday, April 16, at Nou Camp club boss Ernesto Valverde has revealed.
The Argentine suffered a bloodied face in the quarter-final first leg showdown after a strong challenge from Chris Smalling. After which, Messi missed last weekend’s draw with Huesca.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference Valverde said: "[Messi] is fine after the knock he had.
"He's in perfect shape for the game tomorrow (today),” he said, even as he expressed his reservations about the busy schedule the clubs faced ahead of the quarter-final games.
"The schedules are always packed at this stage of the season.
"It’s ridiculous that four teams have a gap of eight days and the other have a gap of six.
"The logical thing to do would have those who played on Tuesday to play the return leg on the Tuesday, and vice versa,” Valverde added.
Despite playing out a barren draw at basement club Huesca last weekend Valverde remains confident that Barca will hold their own against the Red Devils.
"We’re going into the game well.
"You can all guess at the starting XI.
"The gap between the games has been short and we’ve had to rotate players. The result against Atletico Madrid allowed us to do that against Huesca."
Valverde expects Ousmane Dembele to play a role during the encounter after recovering from a hamstring injury in March.
But it is not clear whether he will start from the bench as Valverde hinted at a substitute role to check Man United’s forays in the closing moments of the game.
"Dembele played 70 minutes and he feels good.
"It’ll be important how we start and finish the game.
"United in the last minutes have something special. We’ve seen that at the Camp Nou before.
"He’s gone four weeks without playing but he’s available for tomorrow (today).
"We’re not sure for how long though,” Valverde summed up.
Man United are already in Catalonia with the pair of Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic in the matchday squad.
The Red Devils face a herculean task to knock out Barcelona with a 1-0 aggregate advantage going into the cracker on Tuesday night.
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Nemanja Matic and Alexis Sanchez were named among Manchester United’s contingent ahead of their Champions League quarter-final reverse fixture against Barcelona.
According to teamtalk.com report, Matic and Sanchez are part of the Red Devils 22-man squad that departed Manchester for Barcelona on Monday morning, April 15. Midfielder Matic was also injured but seem to have recovered enough before his inclusion.
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