Luis Enrique: ‘Messi is available’

Barcelona star could make his return today after three-week layoff

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi is ready to make his return for Barcelona.
The Argentina forward has been out for three weeks with a right groin strain, but Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said yesterday that Messi could play against Deportivo La Coruña at Camp Nou today.
“I never give clues to opposing coaches,” said Luis Enrique, who will announce his squad on the day of the match. “In the case of Leo, he has been training with us since Wednesday. It’s clear that since he is coming back from injury he needs minutes both in training and in games. Tomorrow (today) I will talk with him, but he is available.”
This are not just great news for Barça, but also for Argentina. The national team lost at home against Paraguay on Tuesday before drawing with Peru in Lima and Venezuela in Mérida. In all three games, the Albiceleste showed a poor performance and were without Messi.
Now, the main concern for Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza is Messi health for the next World Cup qualifying games against Brazil and Colombia in November.
After the match against Deportivo today, Barcelona will host Manchester City in the Champions League — a game in which the Spanish team will face former coach Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona has only won one of three league matches since Messi went down in the second half against Atlético Madrid on September 21. Atlético rallied to draw 1-1, Barcelona routed Sporting Gijón 5-0 and lost at Celta de Vigo 4-3 with Messi out.
“You notice it when any player is missing and when you are talking about the best player of all time then any team would be affected by that, but our challenge is to accept it, as we did last season,” added Luis Enrique. “We have been without Messi for many weeks unfortunately but that happens to every team over a season. To win a league title you have to make use of the entire squad and work out how to overcome those moments.”
Those stumbles left Barcelona in fourth place, two points behind leaders Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, before last week’s international break. Atlético, which leads the league on goal difference, will next face Granada. Madrid visits Real Betis.
Deportivo has yet to win away from home this season, but the Galician side has managed the impressive feat of earning a pair of 2-2 draws in its last two league visits to Barcelona.
Yesterday, Las Palmas was held to a 0-0 draw at home by Espanyol.
Herald with AP, Reuters

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