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Circumstances have helped. After Inter, came Real, who were in a mess, Cultural Leonesa, who play in Spain's third tier, and Rayo Vallecano, who are 19th in the table.

Lionel Messi has been included in Barcelona's squad for their trip to play Inter Milan in the Champions League but does not have the "medical all clear".

Barca is in first place in the group and beat Inter 2-0 last time out without Messi.

"He's showing positive things in training, but we need a certain security threshold for him to be able to play", Valverde said. We expect them to have a little more pressing and pressure high up the pitch.

Messi has not played for Argentina since their disastrous World Cup campaign, which saw Jorge Sampaoli sacked following his side's last-16 exit against winners France.

"We would like to win and seal qualification for the knockout stage".

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He added: "Burnett is a smart, rugged guy and I don't doubt what he's capable of, so I will use everything in my capabilities to take that away".

"We've always said we can play against anyone, and that still holds true".

Guardiola parted ways with Messi and Barcelona in 2012, and went on to manage Bayern Munich before guiding the Sky Blues to the Premier League throne last season.

"We'll know more after training", added the Inter coach. We Argentines do not realise what Leo represents for the whole world.

Messi could make an earlier return than expected against Inter Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday after breaking his arm on Oct 20, but the Catalans have shown some of their strongest form in his absence. "We are in a very solid, positive moment, especially since the Chinese investment", Zanetti said.

"Qualifying for the Champions League past year was the starting point".