Messi left out of starting lineup against Real Madrid

Cómo estás Leo? La cara de Messi lo dice todo

The first El Clasico of 2019 kicks off today as Barcelona host Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinal in the first of two legs.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor sustained a knock to his thigh in the LaLiga table-toppers' 2-2 draw with Valencia over the weekend, but resumed training on Tuesday, a day before the clash against his club's biggest rivals.

Wednesday's first leg will be Santiago Solari's first taste of El Clasico, and it sits as a reminder of his duties that his predecessor, Julen Lopetegui, was sacked following the Camp Nou defeat in October.

On the Copa del Rey encounter with Real Madrid, the Barcelona boss added: 'It's a special game.

"It's always good to have the best players playing in every match", he said on Tuesday.

If Messi plays it will be because he is fit.

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Real Madrid's Welshman Gareth Bale starts on the bench as Los Blancos go for a front three of Lucas Vazquez, Karim Benzema and exciting teenage prospect Vinicius Junior.

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be fit for the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Asked whether Vinicius' recent displays made him undroppable, Solari replied more shortly that: "Nobody is undroppable in football". The previous Clásicos played in this competition have seen the Whites coming out on top, having not lost in the last four matches.

"It was already complicated in January but with this semi-final at a very high level, more league games, more games in the Champions League knock-out stages, we have to walk a fine line".

The Catalan giants agreed a £120m a year extension to their deal with the sportswear giants in 2016, and have been responsible for producing kits for the Camp Nou side.

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