Messi to play against Zaragoza: Guardiola

Messi to play against Zaragoza: Guardiola

SANTA FE, Argentina - The Associated Press
Messi to play against Zaragoza: Guardiola

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hopes that his Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is fit enough to overcome his fatigue and will be up for selection to face Real Zaragoza. AFP photo

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola expects forward Lionel Messi to overcome fatigue and play against Zaragoza, while Pedro Rodriguez should also return from injury for Saturday’s match.

Messi only arrived Thursday from a lengthy spell of international duty with Argentina and even Guardiola was surprised by how motivated the midfielder was to play.

“Messi is in playing condition,” Guardiola said. “He likes to take part, his life is football. So as long as he wants to play I’ll keep putting him in.” Messi led Argentina in 2014 World Cup qualifying against Bolivia and a match at Colombia before returning to the Catalan capital on Thursday, when Guardiola sent him home to rest. Messi trained without problems on Friday, as did Pedro who had been sidelined more than three weeks with an ankle injury.

“Pedro trained with us and looks good,” Guardiola said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow and whether he can play. He trained with his teammates and without any pain.” Pedro’s return could prove valuable with a number of Barcelona’s internationals coming off international duty in Central and South America. The club also plays at AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday in a match that will likely determine who tops Group H.

“Everybody wants to play, not just Messi,” Guardiola said. “I’m surprised by how they have all arrived so motivated.” Three-time defending champion Barcelona trails leader Real Madrid by three points, the largest deficit to its principal domestic rival since Guardiola took over in 2008.

Madrid plays at Valencia on Saturday.