Messi benched for Barcelona's Catalan derby clash with Espanyol

Barcelona have left out star man Lionel Messi for Sunday's LaLiga clash against Catalan rivals Espanyol.

Published : Feb 04, 2018 20:01 IST

Lionel Messi has been named among the substitutes for Barcelona's derby game at Espanyol on Sunday, the first time the Argentina superstar has not started a LaLiga game this season.

With Barca enjoying an 11-point lead at the top of the table, Ernesto Valverde likely has an eye on Thursday's Copa del Rey semi-final with Valencia.

In Messi's absence, Paco Alcacer starts his fifth league game of the campaign, with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho also named in attack.

Full-backs Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are also among the subs, with Nelson Semedo and Lucas Digne starting for Barca at RCDE Stadium.

Messi scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, which Barca won 5-0 in September. 

Barca have a 1-0 lead going into the second leg of the Copa semi-final with Valencia, Messi having set up Suarez at Camp Nou for the only goal of the game.

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