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Wenger expects tough battle for targets

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Lionel Messi skips Friday practice

Barcelona has played down concerns over Lionel Messi's fitness after the Argentinian was substituted due to injury in the Copa del Rey win over Malaga.

Messi scored Barcelona's fourth goal in a 4-2 away win that carried the Catalans through to the semifinals 6-4 on aggregate.

He was substituted two minutes later, in the 82nd minute, but Barcelona stressed he is not carrying a significant injury. However, Messi did not train with the club Friday, Marca reported.

"We brought Messi off as a preventative measure. The adductor in his right leg was giving him problems. It's nothing serious," assistant head coach Jordi Roura said on fcbarcelona.com.

Real Madrid awaits Barcelona in the last four, and Gerard Pique, who became a father this week before scoring against Malaga on Thursday night, is relishing that semifinal tussle.

The first leg takes place in Madrid on Wednesday, with the return at the Nou Camp four weeks later. Madrid is expected to be without injured goalkeeper Iker Casillas for both games. Casillas was headed to surgery on his injured left hand, according to reports in Marca.

"It's exciting because it's a cup semifinal and because if you win you go onto the final," Pique said. "It's one of the most attractive matches of the year and we have been lucky enough to play it these past couple of years. First we have to play against Madrid, they will still be dangerous even though they will be missing important players."

Barcelona play Osasuna in La Liga on Sunday.

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