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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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Oct 19, 2012

Barcelona may rest Messi

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova looks set to rest Lionel Messi for Saturday evening's La Liga trip to Deportivo la Coruna.

• Blog: Andres Iniesta feels Catalan

Messi, who played and scored in both of Argentina's World Cup qualifying wins over Uruguay and Chile in the last week, returned to training along with fellow late arrivals Javier Mascherano, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Song, at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.

Vilanova looks likely to shuffle his pack for the game at El Riazor, with Celtic to come in the Champions League on Tuesday. After the last international break Tito left a jet-lagged Messi on the bench for Barca's game at Getafe, with the Argentine playing just the last 30 minutes but still scoring twice in a 4-1 win

Alexis Sanchez's international exertions mean David Villa could make his second Primera Division start of the season as Vilanova continues to ease him back after a long injury absence, while Cesc Fabregas would take Messi's false-nine role, with Andres Iniesta in midfield.

The Spanish international midfielder told reporters at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening that it was important that Primera Division leaders Barca were fully focused on their return to domestic action.

"We need to concentrate on La Coruna and getting the three points, and from there on," Iniesta said. "I hope everyone can be available for the game. After the international break it is always a little more difficult."

Mascherano was also rested for the Getafe game in September, but is likely to be needed at centre-half against Deportivo as Gerard Pique has yet to return to full training.

With Dani Alves and Carles Puyol also continuing to do recovery work on Thursday, Martin Montoya is expected to start at right-back at Depor, while one of Adriano, Song and Marc Barta should partner Mascherano in the centre of the defence.

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