Predicted XI

Messi available, but rested? How Barcelona could line up against Rayo

The Argentine has served his two-match suspension after being sent off against Athletic Bilbao, but might not be thrown straight back into the action

 
11:16am on Tuesday 26th January 2021
By
Martin Macdonald

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman will have Lionel Messi available for selection for this midweek's Copa del Rey clash against second tier Rayo Vallecano.

In the final of the Spanish Super Cup, which Barcelona would go on to lose in extra-time, Messi was sent off for the first time in his career with the club after slapping Asier Villalibre on the back of the net after a coming together between the pair.

It was a sign of Messi's frustration in that game, and probably his frustration at the entire season, that he would lash out so rashly.

He has now served his two-match suspension after that dismissal, having missed last week's Copa del Rey win against Cornella before the league game against Elche, which was also won 2-0.

However, with Barca still struggling in La Liga 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, Messi might be kept fresh for the match against Athletic this weekend.

The Blaugrana should have enough to beat Rayo without Messi, but as Real Madrid and Atletico can confirm this season - nothing is guaranteed in the Copa del Rey.

If Messi is rested, he'll be available from the bench if needed.

Barcelona aren't blessed with a huge amount of options in attacking areas, but Francisco Trincao will likely be given a chance to impress, potentially at the expense of Ousmane Dembele.

Miralem Pjanic will be given a start which will mean Sergio Busquets dropping to the bench.

Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo both played well at the weekend and could retain their places with Clement Lenglet kept fresh for Athletic.

The same could be said for Sergino Dest, which means another start for Oscar Mingueza.

In goal, Neto could come in for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona predicted XI against Rayo Vallecano

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