Enrique to Unleash Messi and Neymar Against Bilbao

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has confirmed that Lionel Messi is fit to join Brazilian Neymar in the attack against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

The Argentina skipper pulled out of his country’s win over Germany in a replay of the Fifa World Cup Final last week due to a groin strain.

“Messi is ready to play. He has trained both on his own and with the group,” Enrique said. “The relationship every player has with his international team is different. What concerns me is his relationship with the club and it has been great so far.”

Lionel Messi to Join Forces With Neymar for Athletic Bilbao. Image: AFP
Lionel Messi to Join Forces With Neymar for Athletic Bilbao. Image: AFP

Neymar captained coach Dunga’s Brazil in victories over Colombia and Ecuador and has returned without any injury concern. The forward could start against Bilbao for the first time this season.

Enrique said: “He is in the right condition to play, in fact almost everyone is ready and available to be selected. Neymar is a special player. He has already been subjected to incredible pressure in his country and in his club career and I hope that from that base he can become one of the best players in the world.”

Bilbao returns to the Champions League for the first time in 16 years next week, and will use the trip to the Camp Nou to test their strength against top European opponents.

Despite having lost each of their 10 visit to the Catalans, coach Ernesto Valverde believes they can stun their hosts in Saturday’s La Liga early kick-off.

“We will have our chances and therefore we have to be at 100 per cent and hope Barcelona have an off day,” he said.