Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde will make a late decision on whether to include Lionel Messi for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
The Argentinian star is yet to make an appearance this season having suffered a calf injury in August but travelled to Germany with his team-mates.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Valverde said: “We’ll decide tomorrow whether Messi is going to play. We weren’t sure a week ago, but there’s been a lot of progress.”
Valverde is considering starting Luis Suarez after he returned from his own injury problems with two goals as a substitute against Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday.
He must also decide whether to hand another start to 16-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati, who could become the Champions League’s youngest ever goal scorer.
Fati became Barcelona’s youngest scorer when he netted against Osasuna prior to the international break and he followed up with a goal and an assist on his full debut against Valencia.
Valverde said: “We’re thrilled with Ansu Fati, but we all have to take care of him. If he plays tomorrow, it won’t be to break records, but rather because the team needs him.”
The clash will be the first in the Champions League between Dortmund and Barcelona, whose only previous meetings came in the UEFA Super Cup in 1997.
Midfielder Marco Reus said he would be “very happy” if Messi played, telling a press conference reported by uefa.com: “He is the best player in the world.”
Reus added: “We’re facing a difficult match tomorrow. We need to be switched on. We have to make our mark going forward, find ways to create chances and, of course, score goals.”
Dortmund have their own doubt over defender Lukasz Piszczek, while Nico Schulz is definitely out.
Manager Lucien Favre said: “We’re obviously excited to be playing against Barcelona. In 1991, I spent two weeks shadowing Johan Cruyff. That definitely inspired me.
“We have to be fully on our game for 95 minutes. We need to be focused and play with courage going forward. We need to be prepared for all eventualities and be present in the moment.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P