- Title: SOCCER-SPAIN/BARCELONA Messi ready despite missing training
- Date: 11th September 2015
- Summary: BARCELONA, SPAIN (SEPTEMBER 11, 2015) (REUTERS) PAN FROM BARCA LOGO TO WIDE OF BARCELONA PLAYERS DURING TRAINING WIDE OF TRAINING BARCELONA CAPTAIN ANDRES INIESTA DURING TRAINING NEYMAR DURING TRAINING SUAREZ DURING TRAINING NEYMAR DURING TRAINING WIDE OF FIELD, PUSH IN TO PIQUE AND NEYMAR PAN OF FIELD BARCELONA COACH LUIS ENRIQE ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 26th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVABHRSNUAKNXRKRRP76A3FWSFOV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is ready to play in Saturday's La Liga match at Atletico Madrid despite missing training on Friday for personal reasons, according to coach Luis Enrique.
Messi has not trained since returning from international duty with Argentina but is in the squad for the clash at the Calderon, which pits the champions against the 2013-14 title winners.
Spanish media reported that Messi was absent due to the birth of his second son, although there was no immediate confirmation from the club or the four-times world player of the year.
"Leo had the coach's and the club's permission to miss training for personal reasons," Luis Enrique told a news conference.
"He is in the squad and tomorrow he will be available to play," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.
"We know the performance we and the players are capable of and we'll see what happens tomorrow at the Calderon."
The coach forecast a tough game against Atletico, saying: "They pressure you and have a lot of strategy and movement. A very complete team. That's why they were champions two years ago, they have one of the most renowned coaches in Europe and it's always a stimulus for us. If we don't show a high percentage of intensity then the game will be very complicated."
Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been sidelined by a calf injury and will probably be replaced by German international Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who got the firm backing of Luis Enrique.
Barca are likely to be without suspended centre back Gerard Pique on Saturday, unless an appeal against the sanction for making offensive remarks to an assistant referee is successful.
The defender has also been at the centre of controversy after being booed by Spanish fans during their Erro 2016 qualifier against Slovakia in Oviedo.
Pique became the target of some Spain supporters after mocking Real Madrid during Barcelona's treble celebrations in June.
Pique renewed the attack after being booed, telling a news conference he always wanted things to go badly for Madrid.
Luis Enrique backed Pique and attacked the detractors, telling the media: "I think Gerard Pique is a great guy, very honest, very original because to say what he said, he must be very original.
"I think Gerard Pique is a great guy, very honest, very original because to say what he said, he must be very original. He's got his charm and, we are all adults, rivalry, honest rivalry, is necessary between big football teams and then everyone can interpret this rivalry in the best way.
"I think it's pathetic to whistle your own player. Without doubt it's a negative for his colleagues, his team, and I will repeat what I said, it's a bit comical that in this country these things happen."
Barca and Atletico both won their opening two matches of the season without conceding a goal and are level at the top on six points with Celta Vigo and Eibar.
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