Messi took part in Tuesday's training session with the enthusiasm of a player who is ready to burst back onto the scene right from the start of a game. For now though, the idea is to follow the plan: Messi will come on in the second half, in order to continue getting back into the swing of things and spare him the physical stress of playing two games a week. Whilst the team is getting results, El Tata will ration Messi's appearances.
The manager does not want to take any risks with Leo, and will try to be as prudent as possible with the player — and more so tomorrow, given the 4-0 result in the first leg.
Messi had a normal day after the Ballon d'Or ceremony, spending it in the same natural manner with which he travelled to Switzerland accompanied by his girlfriend Antonella and his parents Jorge and Celia. He never had any reservations about attending the event in which Cristiano received the big prize.
In full knowledge that the Real Madrid player's candidacy was the big favourite amongst the international press, he attended the ceremony with the same respect and appreciation as he did when he won his four Ballons d'Or, or when he came second to Ronaldo as a youngster.
Privately, the Argentinian had the support of all of his club teammates, who consider him the best of the best. Messi spent the following day with his family, with his son Thiago, and with his friends, who he shared his time with before the moment came to head off and train in Sant Joan Despí.