Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele in Barcelona squad for crucial Athletic Bilbao trip

Aditya Devavrat 00:09 10/02/2019
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Messi looked short of his best against Athletic Bilbao

Lionel Messi was named in the Barcelona squad for Sunday’s trip to face Athletic Bilbao, though concerns remain over his fitness.

The captain looked short of his best in the midweek Copa del Rey draw against Real Madrid, and missed training on Friday – the second time in the week he was absent from training after sustaining a thigh injury in last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Valencia.

Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele returned to the squad after his own injury issues, having missed the last five games with an ankle injury.

His return to fitness could mean Philippe Coutinho is left out of the XI, though if Messi is deemed not fit enough to start then Coutinho and Dembele could play together.

Barcelona will be looking to restore their eight-point lead over Real Madrid, who moved into second place in La Liga after beating Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s derby. Any slip-up could reignite the title race between the two bitter rivals.

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