Soccer to watch on TV: Barcelona looks to stay hot with Messi likely out

Barcelona's Clement Lenglet battles for possession with Albert Manel Estelles Fernandez of Cornellà.
Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet battles for possession with Cornellà’s Albert Manel Estelles Fernandez during a match on Thursday.
(Alex Caparros / Getty Images)

With most of the Premier League pausing again for a weekend of FA Cup matches, the top televised games from Europe will come from Spain, where Barcelona will be without talisman Lionel Messi, and France, where a streaking Paris Saint-Germain could fall from first to third in the Ligue 1 table without a win Friday.

La Liga: Barcelona (10-4-4) expects to be missing Messi, its captain and leading scorer, when it returns to league play at relegation-endangered Elche (3-6-8) on Sunday (BeIN Sports, 7 a.m. PT). Messi was given a red card late in Barcelona’s stoppage-time loss to Athletic Club in Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final for a foul the Royal Spanish Football Federation decided was worthy of a two-game suspension. He sat out his first game in Thursday’s 2-0 extra-time Copa del Rey win over Cornellà. Barcelona, unbeaten in La Liga since Dec. 5, has climbed from ninth to third in the table with Messi scoring four times in the team’s last two wins, giving him a league-best 11 goals for the season. Second-place Real Madrid (11-3-4) needs a big result at Deportivo Alaves (4-9-6) on Saturday (BeIN Sports, noon PT) to forget a historically embarrassing overtime loss to a short-handed Alcoyano, a third-division team, in Copa del Rey action Wednesday.

Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain (13-4-3) has dropped just four points in its last six league games to retake the league lead for the first time since early December. But it welcomes Montpellier (8-8-4) on Friday (BeIN Sports, noon PT) needing a win to assure it stays there since Lille (12-2-6) and Lyon (11-2-7) are both within striking distance. PSG’s Kylian Mbappe is tied for the league lead with 12 goals.