• Messi's clash with Smalling like being 'hit by a truck' - Valverde
    12:50 | 13/04/2019

    BARCELONA, Spain — Ernesto Valverde compared Lionel Messi‘s clash with Chris Smalling to being hit by a truck after leaving the Barcelona forward out of the squad for Saturday’s game against Huesca.

    Lionel Messi was inadvertently struck in the face by Chris Smalling during Barcelona’s 1-0 victory. PETER POWELL/EPA

    Manchester United defender Smalling unintentionally caught Messi in the face, drawing blood, during Barca’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday.

    Messi, Barca’s top scorer this season with 43 goals in all competitions, ended the game with bruising and swelling around his nose and cheek but tests ruled out any serious damage.

    Valverde, though, has opted to err on the side of caution and has not included the Argentine in the 18-man squad for this weekend’s match against bottom-of-the-table Huesca.

    “It’s possible that Messi rests,” the coach said in a news conference before announcing the squad. “I spoke with him [on Thursday] and he’s doing OK after the blow to the face.

    “But he was knocked [by the incident]. [It was like] being hit by a truck. We will assess him in training [on Friday] but it’s likely that he will rest.”

    Smalling told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast on Friday that Messi knew there was nothing intentional about the knock.

    “We spoke afterwards. We had a brief chat and shook hands,” Smallin said.

    “He knew it was an accident.”

    Messi’s not the only Barca player who will have the weekend off ahead of the second leg of their quarterfinal against United at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

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