Ernesto Valverde Ready to Rest Lionel Messi for Barca Ahead of World Cup

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2018

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, second left, watches his players as Roma's Juan Jesus, left, and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, wait for the game to resume during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between between Roma and FC Barcelona, at Rome's Olympic Stadium, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has suggested he will rest Lionel Messi in the final weeks of the La Liga season and played down fears the Argentina man will be jaded for the summer's FIFA World Cup.

The Blaugrana have leaned heavily on Messi this season as they've made their way to the top of the table and into the final of the Copa del Rey.

Valverde said the 30-year-old will likely get time to put his feet up in the last weeks of 2017-18, but he's confident the Argentina international should be in good shape for the summer's showpiece in Russia.

"It's a possibility that Messi rests, like others," he said, per Xavi Hernandez of Marca. "There's nothing to worry about, the other day he played a good game, and they're calm in Argentina because Messi still has a lot of energy left for the World Cup."

Barcelona's Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde sits on the bench before the Spanish league footbal match between FC Barcelona and Valencia CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE        (Photo credit should read LLU
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

As noted in the same report, Messi has been suffering with a knock, although he featured in recent matches against Sevilla, Leganes and AS Roma.

According to a separate report from Hernandez, Barcelona are set to be without a number of key players for their meeting with Celta Vigo in La Liga on Tuesday. 

Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are injured, while Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique will be rested. The Blaugrana head to Balaidos seeking to continue their impeccable campaign in the top flight, having gone through 32 games unbeaten.

As noted by Squawka Football, their streak of 39 games in La Liga without defeat is a new record:

Squawka Football @Squawka

RECORD: Barcelona have now gone 39 games without losing in LaLiga; the longest unbeaten run in the competition's history. WWWWWWWWWWWWWWDWWWWDDWWWWWWWDDWWDWWWDWW 🔵🔴 https://t.co/fkUtIu2AOE

The form of Messi has been so important to that remarkable run and what's set to be another La Liga title for the team.

After Neymar's departure in the summer, there was always going to be more responsibility thrust upon the Barca talisman this season. So much goes through Messi in the team's attacking mechanisms.

This season, he has scored 29 goals and laid on 12 assists in 31 appearances in the top flight.

As noted by Goal, his set-piece prowess has stood out this term for Barcelona:

Goal UK @GoalUK

Lionel Messi is the first player to score six direct free-kick goals in a single La Liga season since Ronaldinho in 2006/07 (6) He is the first player to score from outside the box in six consecutive Liga games since at least 2003/04 (six goals) 😳 https://t.co/SM3PjdtgR9

Barcelona's elimination from the UEFA Champions League in shock circumstances at the hands of Roma in the recent quarter-final showdown means the campaign has the potential to finish on something of a low. But Valverde may yet earn a double in his first season.

Barca will be desperate to go through the rest of the La Liga season unbeaten, but there are still some difficult fixtures for them to negotiate, starting with Tuesday's match in Galicia against a dangerous Celta side. They also still have to face Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on May 6.

Messi and Co. also have the chance to win the Copa del Rey and face Sevilla in the final of the competition on Saturday.  


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