Lionel Messi absent from Barcelona squad, Ousmane Dembele may start at Huesca

David Cooper - Writer 11:21 13/04/2019
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Messi, predictably, rescued Barca.

Lionel Messi leads an all-star cast of absentees for runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona when they play relegation-threatened SD Huesca on Saturday (18:15 UAE KO), enabling them to be fresh for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final decider against Manchester United.

Messi, 31, was left blooded by a collision with Red Devils defender Chris Smalling during the midweek 1-0 win at Old Trafford. The 33-goal forward was not part of the 18-man squad announced late on Friday night.

Spain anchorman Sergio Busquets has also been rested, while Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic (illness) and right-back Sergi Roberto (injury) are unavailable. Centre-back Gerard Pique and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez are suspended.

Attention will switch to Ousmane Dembele. The France winger was an unused substitute in Manchester after he recovered from injury, meaning he may feature for the first time since March 13.

Youngsters Jean-Clair Todibo, Riqui Puig, Abel Ruiz and Moussa Wague could all get minutes at the division’s bottom-placed side. Sassuolo loanee Kevin-Prince Boateng may get the nod for just a second top-flight start at Barca.

Huesca were beaten 8-2 when the sides last met in September. The Catalans come into the weekend with an 11-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Goalkeepers: Ter Stegen, Cillessen

Defenders: Semedo, Murillo, Todibo, Alba, Umtiti, Lenglet, Wague

Midfielders: Alena, Vidal, Puig, Arthur, Coutinho

Forwards: Malcom, Ruiz, Boateng, Dembele

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