Lionel Messi is doubtful for the final of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday, when his Barcelona will face Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer has been nursing an unspecified fitness issue that caused coach Ronald Koeman to leave him out of the semifinal on Wednesday against Real Sociedad. Without Messi, Barcelona needed some great goalkeeping by Marc-Andre ter Stegen to reach — and prevail in — a penalty shootout.
Messi has been training on his own and his readiness is up in the air, Koeman said on Saturday.
“(Messi) will have the last word, he knows his own body,” Koeman said. “We hope that he can play the game.
“With Leo, the team is stronger thanks to his ability to create and his effectiveness as a scorer, things that we are sometimes missing. (But) he must be 100%. This is not the last game of the season.”
Barcelona, however, has shown it can win without its star. While not a brilliant attacking performance, Barcelona did have one of its best collective matches in the semifinals to get past an inspired Sociedad.
This Spanish Super Cup is in southern Spain after the coronavirus pandemic stopped it from being played in Saudi Arabia for a second straight season. The tournament’s revamped final four format includes the top two finishers in the Spanish league and the finalists of the Copa del Rey from the previous season.