Barcelona set for PSG battle without Messi and strong defensive duo
Barcelona will set out without their top goal scorer Lionel Messi for a semifinal berth in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday. Reports show that Barcelona have plans of playing without Lionel Messi, but they will have the prodigal Argentinean on their bench just in case.
Barcelona will attempt to take advantage of a 2-2 scoreline from last week, where Lionel Messi and compatriot Javier Mascherano went down to hamstring and knee injuries. Lionel Messi, who is seldom on the bench because of an injury, is supposed to rest for another week, but Paris Saint-Germain’s heroics from the first-leg have caused sleepless nights for Barcelona men.
“I am working hard on my recovery. I am very well,” Lionel Messi said on his Twitter account.
Barcelona proved they could score goals in the absence of Lionel Messi when they thrashed Mallorca 5-0 last weekend. Cesc Fabregas scored a hat-trick and Alexis Sanchez scored a brace. Their brilliant performance should earn them a starting spot in Barcelona’s first-team.
Barcelona’s cancer-stricken manager Tito Vilanova and caretaker Jordi Alba will put their heads together to muster a new defensive pair for the game. With Javier Mascherano, Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal on the sidelines; youngster Marc Bartra is expected to pair-up with Gerard Pique in Barcelona’s defense.
Xavi Hernandez believes Barcelona are still hot-favorites to progress to the semifinals in spite of injury-riddled squad. The attacking midfielder believes the two away goals Barcelona scored at Parc de Princes last week will be prove to be extremely advantageous in putting pressure over Paris Saint-Germain.
“We have 90 minutes left at home and we will play in front of our fans, who showed the top level of devotion in the game against Milan,” Xavi Hernandez was quoted in a report on uefa.com on Monday.
“The shame has been the injuries, Mascherano's just as much as Leo's. We are going to see how Leo is, Mascherano it seems will miss four to six weeks and they are important absences. But we have a good result, we are favourites, playing at home and there are 90 minutes to play.”