Messi fit for Barca return in Malaga

Lionel Messi (AFP)
Lionel Messi (AFP)

Madrid - Lionel Messi is expected to be fit as Barcelona make the tricky trip to Malaga on Saturday looking to move back to the top of La Liga.

Messi missed Wednesday's 2-1 Copa del Rey win at Athletic Bilbao due to a hamstring problem that forced him off at half-time in a 6-0 rout of the same opponents last weekend, but returned to training on Thursday.

Barca will also have Luis Suarez back after he completed a two-game Cup ban in midweek as they look to exact revenge on the only side that stopped the European champions from scoring in their two meetings last season.

Malaga took four points from a possible six against Barca in La Liga last season and were only defeated 1-0 thanks to Thomas Vermaelen's late strike when the two sides met at the Camp Nou earlier this campaign.

"We need to rest well because against Malaga we have had difficult games," said Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

"We need to have a lot of respect for them."

Malaga have already aided Barca's title challenge this year by holding Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu back in September and beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 last month.

"We have played great games against those high in the table this year and last season," Malaga midfielder Ignacio Camacho told the club's website.

"We need to play a very complete game to take any points."

The hosts will be without Nordin Amrabat, though, after the Moroccan international completed his move to Watford on Monday.

Barca will be debilitated by the absence of defenders Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba through suspension and injury respectively.

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