Isco? We'd certainly talk to Madrid — Barça's Bartomeu

Lionel Messi was not included in the starting lineup after picking up a thigh injury during the weekend's draw against Valencia but entered in the second half after Los Blancos had their way with Catalans in the opening period.

Isco's future at Real Madrid has been the topic of hot debate with the Spain midfielder falling out of favour under boss Santiago Solari.

Ousmane Dembele's hamstring problems rule him out of the game which means Phillipe Coutinho who is not having much of impact in games is likely to continue up front.

"He has a match in a few days and we'll see if he can play". The Barca coach will then have to decide whether Messi is fit enough to start the game.

"This action is added to the video of congratulation for the Chinese New Year that was made by the club and released this Monday, with the participation of first team players Leo Messi, Gerard Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti", said the statement.

But Barca barely missed their talismanic forward, thrashing Real Madrid 5-1 in what proved to be Julen Lopetegui's last game in charge before Solari took over.

"If it was the last match tomorrow, than it would be different", he said.

Most notable among Real's squad alterations has been the evolution of Vinicius Junior, who scored his first La Liga goal in Sunday's 3-0 win over Alaves.

Barcelona will look to make the most of their home advantage in the first leg of their semi-final cup tie this evening.

"I don't think it (Messi playing or not) changes which team will be considered the favorite", he said.

The former Madrid player and Castilla youth team coach was happier to go along with local reporters who suggested that La Liga's authorities had favoured Barca by giving them an extra day to prepare for both Wednesday's first leg and the return at the Bernabeu on February 27.

  • Steve Townsend