Barcelona star Lionel Messi has said that he was not affected by a bout of flu ahead of their match against Osasuna in the Spanish Cup.
It was a match that was highly important to Barcelona in the efforts to lift all the trophies this season but manager Pep Guardiola chose to rest Lionel Messi and played Cesc Fabregas in a more advanced position instead.
The gamble paid off pretty quickly, as Barcelona soon asserted their dominance over Osasuna with Cesc Fabregas scoring two goals before Lionel Messi came one as a second-half substitute.
The young Argentine proved that he still had the capability to perform exceptionally well, despite the rumours of a flu. He scored two goals in the last 10 min to give Barcelona a 4-0 score. The two goals also included a header from close range.
Initially, it was announced that Lionel Messi would be missing this match because of flu, but Guardiola included him on the substitutes bench at the last moment. After the match, Osasuna manager Jose Luis Mendilibar claimed that it was deliberate mind games from the part of Barcelona manager Guardiola telling the Press that "I asked him [Messi] if he had a fever and had been sick as they had said and he burst out laughing.”
However, while the player himself played down the severity of his symptoms, he did insist that he had been slightly ill. “[I] just had a tummy ache, nothing else. I never really had a fever. I felt good to come to the stadium and I tried to help the team,” Messi told reporters afterwards.
Meanwhile, Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets has said that the powers of recovery that Lionel Messi possesses is truly remarkable, so it’s probably not too surprising to see that he made it into the substitute bench for the match.
After the match Lionel Messi's Barcelona were given the best football betting odds of winning the Copa Del Rey again this season.