Football: Troubled Barcelona look to Messi for inspiration

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MADRID: Lionel Messi could be ready to play against Real Betis on Sunday (Aug 25) and Barcelona could do with him back.In other circumstances, Messi might have left it another week, having missed the whole of pre-season with a calf injury he sustained in his first training session back.

But after re-joining his team-mates on Wednesday, the temptation will be to put Messi straight to work, to lift the mood and minimise the chances of what would be a disastrous second slip in La Liga.One defeat, by Athletic Bilbao inside a bouncing San Mames on the opening night and inflicted by a freakishly brilliant bicycle kick in the 89th minute, might ordinarily have been accepted as a blip.”San Mames is always a difficult place to play,” said Gerard Pique. “When you’re not at your best, they make you look stupid.”Yet memories of Barcelona’s capitulation in May remain fresh.

The humiliation in the Champions League and submission in the final of the Copa del Rey mean this

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