Updated: Sunday, 12 January 2014 02:38 | By Agence France-Presse

Messi, Neymar start Atletico clash on bench

Lionel Messi will have to wait for his first start of 2014 after being named on the bench by Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino for Saturday's crunch top of the table clash away to Atletico Madrid.


Messi, Neymar start Atletico clash on bench

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates a goal at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 8, 2014

Brazilian forward Neymar is also surprisingly left out of the starting line-up as Martino keeps faith with Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez in attack.

Messi made a sensational return to action after two months out with a hamstring tear on Wednesday as he scored twice as a second-half substitute in Barca's 4-0 Copa del Rey last 16, first-leg win over Getafe.

However, he is still short of match fitness and Martino has stressed he will not rush his star man back too quickly for fear of him suffering another muscle injury.

Atletico are at full strength with coach Diego Simeone showing faith in out of form striker David Villa against his old club.

Villa will partner Diego Costa up front, who will be looking to build on his 19 goals in 18 league appearances this season.

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