Lionel Messi did not train with the rest of the Barcelona team on Friday and instead visited the club's physiotherapists.
The Argentine asked to be substituted with eight minutes remaining of Barcelona's Copa del Rey quarter final second leg clash against Málaga at La Rosaleda after experiencing sore muscles, just moments after scoring the fourth and final goal of the game which sealed a 4-2 victory for Barça and their passage into the semi-finals of the tournament, where they will face Real Madrid.
It was strange to see Messi ask to be substituted, because he has always been determined to complete the 90 minutes of every game, ever since Pep Guardiola took over as Barça coach. Tito Vilanova compared substituting Messi to "telling a boy who is playing football that he has to go and buy bread - he doesn't like it at all".
It would appear that both the club and player want him to be fresh for the first leg of the semi-final tie with José Mourinho's side next Wednesday, and Messi looked in pain on Thursday. Barcelona's assistant coach Jordi Roura - deputising while first team coach Vilanova is in New York for health reasons - is considering resting him for the home game against Osasuna on Sunday so that he is 100% fit for the trip to the Santiago Bernabéu.
Messi always wants to play but the fact he asked to be substituted against Málaga shows that he had Madrid on his mind. Of course, Roura will take his decision with the consent of the Argentine.
With David Villa recovered from injury and Alexis Sánchez barely featuring against Málaga - he came on for just a few minutes - Roura may opt for a new look forward line against Osasuna.