Lionel Messi sits on the bench at the Champions League semifinal return leg on Wednesday.
Lionel Messi sits on the bench at the Champions League semifinal return leg on Wednesday.
Emilio Morenatti/AP

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi missed training on Friday as he battles to regain fitness for the La Liga leaders' final few matches of the campaign.

"The Argentine forward ... did physiotherapy work" apart from the rest of his team mates, Barca said in a statement on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).

Messi damaged a hamstring just over a month ago and although he had been given the all-clear by medical staff he was unable to feature in Wednesday's Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich.

Coach Tito Vilanova said he had not wanted to risk a more serious injury to the World Player of the Year and Messi had to watch from the bench as Barca were thumped 3-0 in the semi-final second leg for a humiliating 7-0 aggregate reverse.

Barca have an 11-point lead in La Liga over last season's champions Real Madrid in second and need five points from their remaining five games to secure a fourth title in five years.

They host Real Betis on Sunday and if Real Madrid fail to win at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday a Barca victory would be enough as they would be at least 13 points ahead with only 12 left to play for.

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