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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Barcelona haven't asked us to sit Lionel Messi against Vanezuela - Bauza

Javier Mascherano says Lionel Messi's return to the national side is a great day for Argentina.
Argentina's Javier Mascherano tried to put a positive spin on Argentina's recent high-profile failures in recent tournaments.
Lionel Messi missed Argentina training through injury and is questionable for their upcoming WCQ's.

Barcelona have not asked Lionel Messi to skip Argentina's World Cup qualifier at Venezuela, according to Albiceleste manager Edgardo Bauza, as concerns about the Blaugrana star's health persist.

Messi underwent tests at Barca's training ground on Monday after he ended Sunday's 1-0 La Liga win against Athletic Bilbao in discomfort. 

The club later confirmed the 29-year-old had a sore left hamstring, but allowed Messi to travel to Argentina and join the national team for World Cup qualifiers...

Lionel Messi saved me from Argentina retirement - Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano says Lionel Messi's return to the national side is a great day for Argentina.
Argentina's Javier Mascherano tried to put a positive spin on Argentina's recent high-profile failures in recent tournaments.

Javier Mascherano has said he was saved from considering international retirement after Lionel Messi opted to return to the Argentina team following his brief retirement.

Messi, 29, called it quits after missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile in this summer's Copa America Centenario final -- the third consecutive loss for Argentina in a major final. 

He made the announcement amid an ongoing scandal in the Argentina FA and national team coach Gerardo Martino followed him out the door...

Andres Iniesta close to Barcelona return, Jeremy Mathieu back training

Barcelona ground out a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao last time out.

Barcelona's Andres Iniesta is nearing a return to action following a knee injury while defender Jeremy Mathieu is back in training ahead of next weekend's match against Alaves.

Club captain Iniesta was injured in the 2-0 win over Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Aug. 14, with an initial report from the Catalan club suggesting he would be back in action sooner than Mathieu. 

But while Mathieu has now returned to the training pitch, Iniesta is still working individually -- although...

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: Nobody plays better than Barcelona

The draw for the Champions league saw Pep Guardiola's Manchester City be drawn in the same group as his former club Barcelona.

New Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says that Barcelona are the best in the world, but that he is equally concerned about facing Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League.

City take on Barca, who are coached by Luis Enrique, at the Camp Nou on Oct. 19 and then host them two weeks later at the Etihad Stadium in a Group C that also includes Celtic and Gladbach.

And former Barcelona manager Guardiola, who joined City after three seasons in charge of Bayern Munich, told Catalunya Radio:...

Barcelona's Rafinha open to loan move if he struggles for first-team football

Barcelona boss Luis Enrqiue believes that his side's tough 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao will make his team stronger.

Barcelona midfielder Rafinha is open to leaving the club on loan if he does not feature regularly under Luis Enrique this season.

Rafinha, 23, has seen the competition for a place in the Barca starting XI increase this summer following the signings of Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes.

On top of that, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic are also part of a list of as many as nine players at the club who would name their favoured position as a central midfielder.

Rafinha, who has reportedly...