Ernesto Valverde has two problems on the table. Well, you can call them problems, or solutions, or dilemmas. Whatever you want. Basically, with Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, everything changed. Until now he had been treating the cup as a secondary target, something for squad players to get a run out in, not spending too much time or effort on it.
However with a double Clasico, it all reverts. The usual headaches spring up. On Wednesday a fired-up Real Madrid arrive at Camp Nou, in the best form of their season.
Lionel Messi suffered a thigh injury against Valencia in the second half. He was treated and played the rest of the game, but without intensity. “He’s OK but we have to see what the tests day, for now we hope he can recover like the rest of them,” said Valverde. Everything hints at a very minor problem, but he might not be 100 per cent for the Clasico. His presence is unknown and adds to Valverde’s headaches. Should he force Leo into the game even though he’s said many times Liga is the priority?
Ousmane Dembele is another case. He has been out for 15 days with an ankle sprain, which was forecast. But he’s not at 100 per cent yet either. Valverde has to decide whether to call on the Frenchman, who has not yet trained with the group. If he does on Monday, it might be a sign that he is ready. “We hope that this week he comes back, I don’t know if it’ll be Wednesday or for Sunday,” said Valverde.