Football

Lionel Messi to be benched for title clash

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Lionel Messi will only make the substitutes bench for the top of the table clash with Atletico Madrid on Saturday, according to Marca.

Gerardo Martino will resist the urge to throw the Argentine superstar in from the start in the crucial clash against Diego Simeone's side.

Barcelona and Atletico are level on points at the summit of La Liga and both know a win will be a huge blow in the title race, though a loss will leave them in danger of being caught by Real Madrid, who are five points behind the pair.

The report says Martino is determined not to rush Messi into the starting XI, as he only made his first appearance since November last weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Messi scored twice after replacing Andres Iniesta with 25 minutes remaining in the 4-0 victory over Getafe on Wednesday and looked sharp.

Atletico will be a far tougher opposition than mid-table Getafe, however, and Marca say Martino will be cautious with his prized asset in what is bound to be a tight and tense affair at the Vicente Calderon.

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Topics:
La Liga
Barcelona
Lionel Messi
Football

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