Messi behaviour on pitch is impeccable, FC Barcelona coach says

Messi, suspended for Argentina after swearing at match officials, was banned for this clash after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season for Barcelona against Valencia before the worldwide break.

The absence of the Argentina star saw Rafinha, who also started the 4-2 victory at home to Valencia before the worldwide break, deployed in a more advanced role. Argentina's dismal record without Messi is well-known - just one win in their last seven World Cup qualifiers without him - and Barca do not always cope well when their all-time top scorer is missing either.

Luis Enrique said: "The good thing is the game he gives you".

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique defended the integrity of his team's talisman Lionel Messi on Saturday after the Argentine was hit with a lengthy ban from global football for insulting an assistant referee. "In the face of what's coming up, a calendar so dense, he needs to rest".

After signing from Santos in 2013, he scored his first goal in that year's Supercopa de Espana against Atletico Madrid, which was also his first of nine trophies.

But coach Lucas Alcaraz remains upbeat about his side's chances of stunning their visitors.

Granada have won three of their last four La Liga games at Los Cármenes (L1).

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Barca trail leaders Real Madrid by two points in the standings and have played a game more than Zinedine Zidane's side, who host Alaves on Sunday four hours before Barca's game.

Neymar missed the game against Deportivo and Barca looked lost without him, and it will now fall upon him to ensure Messi's absence is not as keenly felt against Granada.

Of course Messi's plan would include Neymar.

"We need to have all our senses focused on preparing ourselves well for the game and when it gets started, put everything into each and every minute, conscious that we'll be facing great players, but also believing that we'll have our own chances of winning the game and pushing them to the limit".

A draw is far more valuable for Sporting at the other end of the table as they move to within five points of safety in 18th.

The stakes could not be higher, and it is time to prove that while it is a privilege to have Messi, they do not only depend on him.

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