Barcelona are facing an anxious wait on the fitness of Lionel Messi, as well as Pedro and Adriano, ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal with Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi went off at half-time during the 2-2 draw in Paris last week with a hamstring strain, although he has been training this week, while Pedro and Adriano also missed Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Mallorca on Saturday. Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano have already been ruled out of the Blaugrana’s quest to make the semifinals for the sixth consecutive season.
“We need to wait until tonight and tomorrow to see about Messi, Pedro and Adriano,” assistant coach Jordi Roura said on Tuesday, according to UEFA’s website. “The feeling we have is positive but we have to wait for the training sessions before making a decision.”
Roura, though, is confident that his side can cope, even without Messi.
“If Messi cannot play, we will miss the best player in the world,” he added. “It would be a handicap for us, but his replacement will play well too and we will try to win.”
Messi’s replacement at the weekend certainly did a more than adequate job as Cesc Fabregas struck a hat-trick.
PSG have long since known that they will have to manage without a key player at Camp Nou with Blaise Matuidi having picked up his third booking of the competition in the first leg, earning him a suspension. That disappointment is somewhat tempered, however, by the return to fitness of fellow-midfielder and former Barcelona man Thiago Motta. But, with the Italian having played just once since January, manager Carlo Ancelotti must decide whether to throw him in from the start.
Central defenders Thiago Silva and Alex both missed Saturday’s 2-0 win at Rennes with slight injuries, but are expected to start against Barcelona.
Ancelotti believes that the first leg showed that his side can compete with the very best.
“PSG are happy to be here because it'll be a fantastic night,” he said. “Everyone knows we have a small chance of making it, but we do have a chance. We have proved we can play well against a fantastic team.”
D: Alves, Pique, Song, Alba
M: Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
F: Sanchez, Fabregas, Villa
Paris Saint-Germain (probable)
D: Jallet, Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell
M: Lucas Moura, Verratti, Motta, Pastore
F: Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi
Betting Odds: Barcelona are strong favorites to win at Camp Nou, priced at 2/5 with Bet 365. A draw is available at 17/4 and an away victory at 15/2. To progress to the semifinals, Barcelona are 1/8, with PSG at 11/2.
Where to watch: The second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.