• News

Real Betis coach Rubi hopes Lionel Messi catches a cold

Getty Images

Rubi jokingly admitted he hopes Lionel Messi catches a cold before Real Betis travel to Barcelona for Sunday’s La Liga match.

After a calf strain had ruled him out Barcelona’s opening day 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao last week, Messi will likely be back for this weekend’s encounter with Betis.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has returned to full training and is looking sharp. However, Blaugrana coach Ernesto Valverde hasn’t confirmed yet whether he will start Messi or bring him on as a substitute.

Apparently, the Spaniard will make a final decision on his star man during Saturday’s training session.

It’s only natural, of course, that Barcelona are playing it safe with Messi after he picked up an injury in his first training session back this summer.

While not wishing anything severe on the Argentine, Betis manager Rubi would love to see him catch the flu.

“I think Messi is going to play from the start. It’s what I think,” said Rubi, according to Goal.

“I’d prefer Messi to have a cold, not an injury, but a cold so he cannot play.

“We have to go with a point of courage but knowing that any player they put out will be good.

“If you go with excessive respect you are losing 1-0. You have to be brave but not commit nonsense, because they will take advantage of that.”

The former Espanyol boss, who left Catalonia for Betis this summer, also weighed in on Barcelona’s attempts to reunite Neymar with Messi.

“I am nobody to say if Barcelona should sign Neymar or not. But I have worked with him and he is one of the five best in the world,” said Rubi.

“Having one of the five best in the world is wonderful.”

Unfortunately, for Betis, Rubi has lost all four of his encounters against Barcelona down the years.

The 49-year-old will likely start feeling the heat in Seville if he doesn’t get a result after overseeing a 2-1 defeat to Real Valladolid in last weekend’s La Liga opener.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MAY 18: Head Coach Rubi.