- Champions League
Messi may be fit for PSG clash
Lionel Messi has a chance of returning for Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, according to blaugrana assistant coach Jordi Roura.
Messi was withdrawn at half-time in Tuesday's 2-2 first leg draw in Paris after injuring a thigh muscle when putting his side in front just before the break. It was initially feared he could face three weeks out, but a club statement on Wednesday suggested the Argentine could return in time for the second leg against the Ligue 1 side.
The injury was not as bad as first feared, Roura said, while suggesting Cesc Fabregas would take Messi's 'false nine' role for Saturday evening's La Liga clash with Real Mallorca at the Camp Nou,
"What we have been able to see is that [Messi's problem] is not so serious, but it is difficult to tell you," he said. "We must see how his situation goes between now and Wednesday. He is out of tomorrow's game. We have other alternatives to cover his absence, Fabregas can take his place."
Barca boss Tito Vilanova, who continues to ease his way back to full work duty, also has injury concerns in defence, with Javier Mascherano ruled out for six weeks after tearing a knee ligament against PSG.
Youngster Marc Bartra now looks likely to partner Gerard Pique at centre-half against both Mallorca and PSG, although the returning Adriano Correia and well again Eric Abidal were also options, Roura said.
"Adriano was with the group [today] and we will see after Saturday's training session how he is," the coach said. "Abidal is another option, another squad member. We will decide with Tito what we will do."
Given Barca are 13 points clear at the top of the Primera Division, other squad players such as Thiago Alcantara, Cristian Tello and Martin Montoya are in line to feature against 19th-placed Mallorca giving first teamers such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba a rest. Back-up goalkeeper Jose Pinto is sure to start, as Victor Valdes is suspended.
Roura admitted there was a balancing act involved in selection when the games come thick and fast.
"It is evident that we have to try and find a balance," he said. "I have always said La Liga remains very important for us. We have to be fully concentrated on tomorrow's game. We will judge who is the best option for the game."
Roura denied that the public and strong criticism of the performance of referee Wolfgang Stark in the PSG game by Alves and board spokesperson Toni Freixa were signs Barca were following another club [i.e. rivals Real Madrid] in trying to pressurise officials.
"As you have said well, the two clubs have nothing in common," he said. "Our policy has not changed. There are some clear and concrete circumstances. We are not fools. If something happens it is important to talk about it."