Barça with a fit Messi against the quarter-final curse
The Champions League quarter-final return leg between Barcelona and Manchester United is scheduled for tonight. The Catalans will go into the duel with a narrow lead. Coach Ernesto Valverde has great respect for his opponents – and can rely on a fit Lionel Messi.
The Catalans won the first leg 1-0 at Old Trafford, their first ever Barcelona win at the stadium. However, the offensive did not go as well as usual, partly because Messi had a rush with Chris Smalling after almost half an hour, suffered a laceration on his nose and was then no longer in full possession of his powers. “After the collision he is doing very well”, Valverde reported on Monday at the press conference. The Argentinian had taken a break from a goalless draw with Huesca at the weekend and is now resting in the second leg against the Red Devils.
So “La Pulga” will definitely start, but Ousmane Dembelé is not sure yet. The former Dortmund player has just cured a thigh injury and was running up 67 minutes on the weekend. “It could be that he starts – and it could be that he doesn’t”, the coach didn’t want to be looked into. “The players who start are important. But also those who come in.” If Dembelé doesn’t run up, Philippe Coutinho will probably start again – as in the first leg. Or Barça will play 4-4-2 with the two top players Messi and Luis Suarez.