rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » CL: Doubts over Messi's fitness keep PSG guessing

CL: Doubts over Messi's fitness keep PSG guessing

Last updated on: April 9, 2013 10:31 IST

CL: Doubts over Messi's fitness keep PSG guessing

     Next

Next

Lionel Messi has gone from being the first name on Barcelona's team sheet to the last, as they await a late fitness test ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg at home to Paris St Germain.

-Preview: Barca wait on Messi; Real, Bayern smell semis

The World Player of the Year is recovering from a hamstring strain picked up in Paris last week, when he scored in the 2-2 first-leg draw, though Barca proved they could survive without him by thrashing Real Mallorca 5-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

Despite fielding a weakened side, the leaders ran riot at the Nou Camp with a hat-trick from Cesc Fabregas and two from Alexis Sanchez but PSG are a tougher proposition than La Liga's basement side.

Favourites Barca are chasing a fourth Champions League crown in eight seasons and leading marksman Messi usually provides the cutting edge on the big stage by setting up and scoring goals.

His mere presence provides a psychological lift to his side and a big headache for opponents.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Susana Vera/Reuters

     Next

'We'll see what options we have against PSG'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The Argentine did some fitness work on Sunday and Spanish media reported he was one of a group of players who turned up to work on Monday despite the squad having been given the day off.

With La Liga all but in the bag, as Barca lead second-placed Real Madrid by 13 points with eight games left, coach Tito Vilanova may be inclined to risk his prize asset against PSG.

Vilanova also has to decide who will partner Gerard Pique in the centre of the defence as Javier Mascherano is out with a knee injury and Carles Puyol is a doubt as he recovers from knee surgery.

Inexperienced former youth-teamer Marc Bartra performed well alongside Pique on Saturday but versatile full back Adriano Correia is close to fitness again and midfielder Alex Song could even be drafted in at the back.

"We'll see what options we have against PSG," Barca's assistant coach Jordi Roura said.

Eric Abidal's emotional playing return as a substitute on Saturday, a year after having a liver transplant, puts him in the running but he is unlikely to start.


Image: Barcelona's players including Lionel Messi (right) attend a training session
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Prev     Next

'We are in an extraordinary position'

Prev     More
Prev

More

PSG's influential centre back Thiago Silva is in the squad after sustaining a knee injury in the first leg and missing Saturday's 2-0 win at Stade Rennes in Ligue 1.

On Saturday, coach Carlo Ancelotti had seven of the 11 players who started the first leg either on the bench or not even on the team sheet as he looked to rest tired legs.

Ancelotti, however, has a problem to solve in midfield due to the absence of the suspended Blaise Matuidi.

David Beckham is a probable starter after a decent performance in the first leg, with the second holding midfielder spot likely to be between Italian Marco Verratti and Frenchman Clement Chantome.

Italy midfielder Thiago Motta could also play there but he has only featured once in more than two months because of a groin injury.

Jeremy Menez's fine performance against Rennes may not have been enough for him to take the place of Ezequiel Lavezzi or Lucas.

Centre back Alex has recovered from a thigh problem and is in the squad.

"We have to take it as a great day for us. We are in an extraordinary position," sports director Leonardo told French media.

"Barcelona are 20 years into their project. PSG have started a great chapter in their history but the squad only started working together 20 months ago."

Probable teams
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 2-Daniel Alves, 3-Gerard Pique, 15-Marc Bartra, 18-Jordi Alba; 6-Xavi, 16-Sergio Busquets, 8-Andres Iniesta; 9-Alexis Sanchez, 4-Cesc Fabregas, 7-David Villa
PSG: 30-Salvatore Sirigu; 26-Christophe Jallet, 13-Alex, 2-Thiago Silva, 17-Maxwell; 29-Lucas, 32-David Beckham, 24-Marco Verratti, 27-Javier Pastore; 18-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 11-Ezequiel Lavezzi


Image: PSG's Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the goal
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Prev     More
Source:
© Copyright 2014 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.