Madrid, April 4 (IANS) Argentine talisman Lionel Messi is back for FC Barcelona as they look to maintain their La Liga football title hopes with a home game against Sevilla on Wednesday night.
Wednesday could be decisive in the race for the La Liga title as Real Madrid kick off their game away against Leganes almost as soon as the final whistle blows in the Camp Nou stadium in the Barcelona-Sevilla tie, reports Xinhua news agency.
Barcelona kick off two points behind Real Madrid and with an extra game played, but Messi’s return after suspension and that of defender Gerard Pique, who was rested for the 4-1 win away over Granada, will be a major boost for Luis Enrique’s side.
Neymar and especially Luis Suarez ensured that Messi wasn’t missed at the weekend, but his return will be important against a Sevilla side that looks to have run off the rails in recent matches.
The departure of Sporting Director, Monchi, has only served to complicate off-field matters for a side which looks tired and will once again be without defenders Gabriel Mercado and Adil Rami for the trip to Barcelona.
Real Madrid have only to make a short trip to the south of the capital to face Leganes in the Butarque Stadium.
Keylor Navas looks likely to return in goal after Zinedine Zidane gave him his vote of confidence on Tuesday, but the Madrid coach will have to decide whether to risk ace forward Cristiano Ronaldo and defender Dani Carvajal, who are both one booking off missing Saturday’s derby at home to Atletico Madrid.
Midfielder Casemiro will return to action after not playing against Alaves due to suspension, but defender Rafael Varene will not play after it was confirmed the muscle injury he suffered at the weekend will keep him out for around three weeks.
“It’s an important match, like every game. We always think that the next game is the most important. It’ll be a complicated match, at a difficult stadium and against an opponent which is doing very well lately,” Real head coach Zinedine Zidane said in a release ahead of the match.
Leganes may also make changes if coach Asier Garitano decides to target the weekend trip to play bottom of the table Osasuna, rather than look for a miracle against the league leaders; something which will of course only make Madrid’s job on Wednesday that bit easier.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.