La Liga: Messi ready for Real Betis clash

The Free Press Journal - - FPJ SPORTS -

Ernesto Valverde has in­di­cated Li­onel Messi and Samuel Umtiti are both ready to re­turn for Barcelona against Real Betis on Sun­day but Ous­mane Dem­bele has been dropped.

Messi has been out since break­ing his arm against Sevilla on Oc­to­ber 20 while Umtiti has been nurs­ing a knee prob­lem and has not played since Septem­ber 26. Both are in­cluded in the squad to face Betis in La Liga this week­end but there was a sur­prise omis­sion for Dem­bele.

Valverde said the 21-yearold had been left out af­ter a “sport­ing as­sess­ment”. Messi's re­turn would come as a ma­jor boost to Barca. Their cap­tain was in­cluded in the trav­el­ling squad to face In­ter Mi­lan on Wed­nes­day but was not deemed fit enough even for the bench.

Asked if he could play 90 min­utes against Betis, Valverde said: “We will see, but he's lost his fear of fall­ing or strug­gling against an op­po­nent. You have to get that out of your head, you can­not be think­ing if you are about to make a bad move­ment. I have seen him train­ing well and with con­fi­dence.”

Messi’s ab­sence should have been a golden op­por­tu­nity for Dem­bele but the winger's form has been mixed in re­cent weeks, while Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Rafinha and Mal­com have all im­pressed. “Ev­ery­one can in­ter­pret it how they want but this is a team,” Valverde said.

Barcelona paid around 105 mil­lion eu­ros to sign Dem­bele from Borus­sia Dort­mund last year but in­jury and in­con­sis­tency have plagued his ca­reer in Spain so far. “Let’s hope he can make the most of all his tal­ent so the team ben­e­fits and also the club, which has made a great in­vest­ment in him,” Valverde added.

Umtiti has been a key player for Barca but the de­fender’s place in the start­ing lineup this week­end is not guar­an­teed, given Clement Len­glet has done well.

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