Leo Messi to return to the group on Wednesday

Leo Messi, against Levante on Sunday. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The FC Barcelona striker is undergoing various tests on Monday and Tuesday

FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi will undergo several tests on Monday and Tuesday to assess the evolution of the kidney problems he suffered last December. Messi will return to his normal duties with the first team on Wednesday.

Javier Mascherano expects league to stay tight until the end

 Javier Mascherano was speaking in support of the charity publication Relats Solidaris de l’Esport / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Speaking on Monday, the Argentinian says he knows only too well that anything can start happening in the final third of the season

Barça have a three point lead in La Liga, which they could extend to six if they win their game in hand against Sporting. But Javier Mascherano insists that it’s still very early days in the competition.

“There’s a long way to go” he said on Monday at an event to recognise the €45,730 raised for Rett Syndrome by the book Relats Solidaris de l’Esport. “The last two seasons have shown that the final third is the hardest. This will be a difficult league right until the end and any dropped points will be costly.” 

On equalling the record of 28 unbeaten games that he previously helped to set under Pep Guardiola, the Argentinian commented that “the main similarity between the team under Luis Enrique and under Guardiola is that they compete the same way. They have the same desire to win and that’s important when you have a team of players that have won so much.”

Here are some other quotes from Javier Mascherano:

The game with Levante

“Sometimes certain conditions prevent you from playing your best game and we had a lot of trouble on Sunday even though Levante in last place.”

“From now, the teams near the bottom of the table have a lot to play for. We couldn’t get our game flowing or get the ball moving fast. But we worked hard and deserved to win.”

“We have come on a lot, because we used to struggle to win games like those. We know how to suffer in order to get results.”

The Barça style

“We work as a unit, not as separate parts. Last season, it was by working as a unit that we got such great results. This year we have a better idea of what to do and it’s working. Everyone has to help in defence and in attack because of the way we play.”

“There are no big secrets to Barça’s football. Everyone knows how we play and we don’t know any other way.”

“This team doesn’t need complex tactics to win games because we have such decisive players over the final third. Perhaps Pep’s team needed to dominate the possession more in order to get the better of opponents.”

“Luis Enrique is one of the best managers I’ve ever had and he’s done some great things in a year and a half at the club. He’s created an unpredictable team, with a lot of options and which can play a lot of different ways. There’s a thin line between winning and losing, but since he arrived, there has been a vast improvement in quality and fighting spirit.”

The other side of the 2-0 win at Levante

Suárez, Messi i Neymar, d'esquenes, al Ciutat de València / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Our cameras were clicking away at the Ciutat de Valencia on Sunday and here’s a pick of the finest snaps from another successful away trip

The other side of Levante v Barça

Training begins for Copa del Rey semi-final second leg

Messi, Suárez, Piqué and Neymar Jr train at the Ciutat Esportiva / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Samper, Gumbau, Kaptoum, Cámara and Romera of FC Barcelona B join the first team for Monday morning’s workout ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Valencia

After winning 2-0 at Levante to stay top of the table with a game in hand, FC Barcelona have turned the page and are now preparing for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey second leg at Mestalla.

Although they are going into that game with an extraordinary seven-goal cushion, Luis Enrique has insisted that the wants his team to win the second leg too. There’s the added motivation of extending the unbeaten run to 29 games, which would set a new all-time record for Spanish football.

The cup tie was the focus of Monday morning’s training session on the Tito Vilanova field at the Ciutat Esportiva training ground, where the first team players were joined by Samper, Gumbau, Kaptoum, Cámara and Romera of Barça B.

The team will train again at the same time (11.00am CET) and place on Tuesday. Afterwards, the manager will be giving a press conference, and you’ll be able to watch it live with an English translation here at www.fcbarcelona.com.

The players will be travelling to Valencia on the morning of the match itself, which kicks off at 9.00pm CET on Wednesday night.

All the best moments from the win in the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Luis Enrique's 100th game as coach

Leo Messi
All the best moments from the win in the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Luis Enrique’s 100th game as coach

Highlights of the league games between Levante and FC Barcelona which ended in a 2-0 win for Luis Enrique’s team. The goals came from an own goal by defender David Navarro and an injury time second from Luis Suárez.

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