MADRID (Reuters) – Barcelona forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have been left out of the squad for the King’s Cup quarter-final, first leg match at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
Messi had to come off at halftime in Sunday’s 6-0 demolition of the Basque club in La Liga and while tests on Monday ruled out a hamstring strain the Argentina captain has been rested as a precaution.
Suarez was given a two-match ban for allegedly provoking a fracas in the tunnel following the first leg of Barca’s last 16 tie against Espanyol this month.
The Uruguay striker served one half of the ban in last week’s return game, when Barca progressed 6-1 on aggregate, and the club were waiting to hear if Spain’s Disciplinary Committee for Sports (TAD) would grant their appeal.
With Messi and Suarez absent, Brazil international Neymar, the remaining third of Barca’s prolific South American attacking trident, will likely lead the line, with academy graduates Munir el Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez also in coach Luis Enrique’s arsenal.
Barca, the Cup holders and record winners, were drawn to play a Bilbao side whose 23 triumphs, their most recent in 1984 against Barca, are only bettered by the Catalan club’s 27.
Barca have beaten Bilbao in the final three times since 2009, including a 3-1 success last season.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Alan Baldwin)