River Plate and its 15,000 fans will go up against Barcelona, the leader of European football over the last decade (four Champions), in the final of the Club World Cup in Yokohama on Sunday (10h30 GMT).
Since the Catalan club announced on Thursday Messi is suffering with renal colic, the whole tournament has been revolving around his health.
The latest information coming out of Barca is that Messi stayed at the hotel while his teammates performed their penultimate training on Friday at the Mitsuzawa Stadium.
Spanish media have reported that the Argentine has passed the stone that caused the renal colic. If true, his availability now depends on if he no longer has the strong pain that he has suffered the past two days.
- Neymar trains -
It appears Brazilian Neymar, recovering from a muscle injury, will be available for the match. On Friday he trained alone with the team's physiotherapist.
But with the absence of two of the three candidates for the Balon d'Oro, Barcelona has the Luis Suarez show, who scored the first hat-trick in the history of the Club World Cup in the semifinals.
Now the Catalans will fight for their third Club World Cup, which would leave them as the most successful club in this competition.
Their opponent will be River Plate who recently won their third Copa Libertadores.
"The South Americans are strong and tough. River is one of the biggest in America. It will be more than difficult and we will face them in the best way possible for the title, which is what we want," said Suarez.
- Mayada for Pisculichi? -
On Sunday an estimated 15,000 fans will be on hand at the stadium in Yokohama to cheer on River Plate, which is the largest mobilization of supporters ever in this tournament.
It appears as if Marcelo Gallardo will hardly touch the team that won 1-0 on Wednesday against Hiroshima with the exception of Uruguayan Camilo Mayada, a player of speed and power, in place of Leonardo Pisculichi in midfield.
-- Probable starting teams:
Barcelona: Bravo - Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba - Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta - Neymar, Suárez, Messi (or Sandro). Coach: Luis Enrique
River Plate: Barovero - Mercado, Balanta, Maidana, Vangioni - Kranevitter, Pisculichi (or Mayada), Ponzio, Sánchez - Alario, Mora. Coach: Marcelo Gallardo.
By Pablo MELIAN/AFP