Champions League news

Barca delay Messi decision

April 10, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

A decision on whether or not Lionel Messi plays in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou is not likely to be made until the last minute.

Lionel Messi talks to Tito Vilanova after sustaining a thigh injury towards the end of the first half
GettyImagesTito Vilanova and his Barcelona team reclaimed the La Liga title despite obstacles

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Messi injured a thigh muscle when scoring Barcelona's opener in last week's 2-2 first leg in Paris, and has since been receiving medical treatment on the injury in the hope of returning in time.

He took part in training on Tuesday evening at Barca's Ciutat Esportiva, as did team-mates Pedro Rodriguez and Adriano Correia, who are also coming back from time on the sidelines, and all three players were subsequently included in Barca's provisional match squad for the game.

Assistant coach Jordi Roura told UEFA's official press conference on Tuesday afternoon that Messi, Pedro and Adriano were all in contention to play against PSG, but nobody would be rushed back before they were ready.

"We still have a few training sessions to evaluate their fitness," Roura said. "At the moment, the sensations are good but we need to wait and see how they feel. We especially have to see the results from their latest medical tests. If any one of these players end up playing, it will be because they are 100 per cent able to do so. We will have to see how things go."

Should Messi not start the game against the Ligue 1 leaders, Cesc Fabregas will play his usual 'false nine' attacking role. Andres Iniesta said on Tuesday that Barca had the squad and the style of play to cope with any absences, even that of the current Ballon D'Or holder.

Roura echoed that idea, citing the depth of quality available to blaugrana boss Tito Vilanova.

"In the end if we cannot call on the best player in the world, it will be a handicap for us [but] we have a very deep and talented squad," he said. "Whoever plays will be a top level player and just as ambitious and motivated."

Speaking to German magazine kicker, Messi's father said that the image of his son as headstrong was not correct. Jorge Messi said Lionel had always followed direction from his coaches, throughout his development and career.

Some have suggested that Messi himself would be unhappy to be left out, given how keen he is to play in every game, with concerns raised that the player could overrule coaches or medical staff and return before he is really ready to do so.

"He was always very disciplined, always did whatever he was asked by his coaches," Messi senior said. "He is like that today too. Like when [former boss Frank] Rijkaard at Barça put him on the right-wing. He always did what the coach asked, always played where he was told to, it did not matter who told him. And he never complained about it. He was always like that."

Messi also suggested that his son's style of play was evolving naturally as he matured, and predicted he would play a deeper midfield role in the future.

"I see [Leo] further back on the pitch, as a playmaker, something which he already does sometimes at Barca," he said. "He often begins moves from really far back."

La Pulga's most recent injury has seen more focus on Barca's 'Messi-dependence', or reliance on him to both score and create the majority of the team's goals. His parent said any such pressure had never been an issue.

"He has always been relaxed," he said. "That is the truth. Leo never felt pressure that he must win a game or must play well. For him all this has always been normal."