MILAN – Lionel Messi was left out of Barcelona’s Champions League clash at Inter Milan on Tuesday as the Group B leaders aim to qualify for the last-16.
Messi is recovering from a broken arm suffered last month, and Barca boss Ernesto Valverde has opted to leave the superstar attacker out of the match at the San Siro, sticking with the same starting XI that scraped past Rayo Vallecano 3-2 at the weekend.
Ousmane Dembele takes Messi’s place upfront alongside the in-form Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, ahead of Rafinha.
Radja Nainggolan returns for hosts Inter, who are fresh from winning their seventh straight Serie A match on Saturday, after recovering from a left ankle injury picked up during last month’s Milan derby.
The Belgian, who scored Inter’s stoppage-time fifth in his cameo appearance during the 5-0 drubbing of Genoa at the weekend, replaces Joao Mario in midfield, while Matias Vecino steps in for Italian Roberto Gagliardini alongside Nainggolan.
Both teams will qualify on Tuesday if Inter win, and Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven draw in the group’s other game.