Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has included Lionel Messi in his 18-man-squad for the the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Valencia on Wednesday (3 February) despite the Argentine missing Monday's training session with a knock. However, Claudio Bravo, Douglas, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Sandro and long-term injury Rafinha Alcantara will miss the game with Gary Neville's side, with the first five rested ahead of the La Liga match against Levante on Sunday.
Messi sparked fears over his participation in the Copa del Rey home game after being unable to train with the rest of his Barcelona teammates on Monday, having suffered a heavy high tackle to the knee from Filipe Luis during the 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid at the weekend. But Luis Enrique revealed in Tuesday's press conference the ace was "perfectly fit" to face Valencia. The boss will thus have all three members of his MSN attacking trio available, as Neymar and Luis Suarez are both in the squad.
Neymar's participation was subject to question after he was forced to testify in court on Tuesday regarding the ongoing investigation into his controversial transfer to Barcelona from Santos in the summer of 2013.
Luis Enrique, however, said that the Brazilian was fully focused on the Valencia game, and had no hesitation in calling him up for the squad.
"Neymar is in a perfect state of mind," Luis Enrique said. "I believe that on a scale of zero to one million, the whole case affects him 0.01%. This case is a recurring issue, it has been going on for a number of years now. The matter has nothing to do with football and it will all be resolved in the end."
Despite the strong squad, the Barcelona manager is expected to make some rotations in his starting line up. Alves and Mascherano are both rested, with Aleix Vidal probably replacing the Brazilian right-back. Meanwhile, Luis Enrique will have to choose between Marc Bartra, Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu to fill the Argentine-shaped hole in the back-line.
Furthermore, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will take Claudio Bravo's role between the sticks, as is usual in cup games. Douglas and Sandro, who were linked with a January move away due to their lack of playing time, are both out for tactical reasons.
Barcelona 18-man squad to face Valencia: Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Jordi Masip, Gerard Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen and Mathieu.