Optimism increasing at Barça as Messi trains ahead of el Clásico

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

"But risking the fitness of any player - Messi or anyone else - I'm not really in favour of it because they inevitably play with some fear, and games like tomorrow can not be played with fear".

It is unclear whether Messi - the all-time Clasico top scorer - will be fit for the game after ending Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Valencia at the weekend with a knock.

"It's always good when the best players get to play every game, but whether or not he plays will not influence the way we prepare for the game at all", Solari said.

"El Clasico does not change without Messi; in a semi-final between Barca and Madrid there is no favourite, it is an open tie, we have good players, they too", he said. The team announced Messi was included in the 19-man squad for the game, the first real step to being able to play.

But this is the first of three games between Barcelona and Real Madrid over the next 24 days, with the second leg of the semi-final and the LaLiga clash - both at the Bernabeu - still to come.

"We will see how he feels, he is on track", Valverde said.

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"I have not seen Leo Messi, we will see how it is, if it can be done, if it can be completed and if he is fit". "The most important thing is the player tells you he is ready". But Barca barely missed their talismanic forward, thrashing Real 5-1 in what proved to be Julen Lopetegui's last game in charge before Solari took over.

"I hope not, although it is curious to say the least", Solari said. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach".

Asked whether Vinicius' recent displays made him undroppable, Solari replied more shortly that: "Nobody is undroppable in football". Bale returned as a starter on Sunday alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior as Alaves were beaten 3-0, the team's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

Lucas Vasquez looks set to rejoin the starting XI, alongside Karim Benzema who has 18 goals for the season to his name.

Ousmane Dembele is close to recovering from an ankle injury.

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