Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Vilanova: Messi can transform tie

April 30, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova knows his side face a tough task in overturning a 4-0 first leg deficit against Bayern Munich in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final return game at the Camp Nou, but says Lionel Messi still may have something to say about which side progresses.

Tito Vilanova faces the press on Tuesday
GettyImagesTito Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola as Barcelona coach in summer 2012

Barca's hopes look slim after last week's calamitous result at the Allianz Arena, during which Messi made little impact on his return from a thigh injury. Furthermore, no team has ever overcome such a heavy first leg reverse in European Cup or Champions League history. However, no other side has ever been able to field a revved-up Messi, said the Catalan coach.

"We know how important Messi is in this team," Vilanova said. "And even more in front of goal. The better he feels, the more chances we have to go through. This would have to be done between us all, but yes, if Leo is okay, he will have something to say."

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Vilanova said his team would have no special plan for how to turn the tie around, and that the only way for Barca to score enough goals was to impose their usual tiki-taka style on their opponents.

"We cannot keep thinking constantly that we have to score lots of goals," he said. "We must think about how to do it. We must keep doing what we know. We must be better than them, and if we score early then even better. But it is not vital to be 2-0 up at half-time, as people have said. Bayern only scored one."

Knowing that even one Bayern goal would leave Barcelona needing to score at least six to progress, Vilanova said not leaving holes at the back for the Germans to exploit was fundamental.

"With the adverse result we must keep a clean sheet," he said. "If they score one goal, it would be even more difficult."

Barca's main injury worry is midfield pivote Sergio Busquets, who missed Saturday evening's 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao with a groin injury, which reportedly hampered his performance last week in Munich. Vilanova revealed no further details on Busquets' fitness, or his planned XI for the game.

"It is pretty tight for Busquets, like some others, who have problems," he said. "We have one more training session [Wednesday morning] to see if they are at 100% for the game."

The former Blaugrana midfielder appeared to rule out a surprise return for Javier Mascherano, who tore knee ligaments in the quarter-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain on April 2, but he is reportedly nearing fitness again.

"Four weeks ago he suffered a very bad injury, and was expected to be out for five or six weeks," Vilanova said. "He will be back soon, but unless there are some changes, he will not be with us tomorrow."