Messi returns to Barca starting XI for Betis visit

Lionel Messi is back in Barcelona’s starting XI for the first time in three weeks following a lay-off with a broken arm, as Real Betis visit Camp Nou.

Messi fractured his arm after falling awkwardly following a collision with Sevilla’s Franco Vazquez in the 4-2 win on October 20.

The injury has seen the Argentina star miss a total of five matches, though only one – the most recent, a 1-1 draw at Inter in the Champions League – did not end in a Barca win.

Messi was provisionally named in the travelling squad for that trip to Milan but, having not been given the all-clear from medical staff, Barca opted to not include him in the final matchday selection.

But they announced on Saturday that he was back and ready to feature against Betis, and Ernesto Valverde has immediately restored him to the line-up.

Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are at centre-back, while Jordi Alba starts after being recalled to the Spain squad this week.

Malcom keeps his place in attack, with Ousmane Dembele not present after being left out of the squad reportedly as a consequence of missing training without permission on Thursday.

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