Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Game to Watch: PSG visits Barcelona with Messi in doubt
by Samuel Charles, April 9th, 2013 12:37AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  uefa champions league

MOST COMMENTED

[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The first leg between Barcelona and Paris St. Germain ended with PSG snatching a 2-2 tie during the dying seconds in Paris as Lionel Messi could only watch, nursing an injured hamstring. With a semifinal berth on the line at the Camp Nou Wednesday, and one team about to be eliminated, all eyes remain on La Pulga.

TV: Barcelona–Paris St. Germain (Wednesday 2:45 pm ET, Fox Soccer)

PALPITATIONS IN PARIS: Dani Alves’ magnificent 38th minute assist fed Messi’s opener for Barcelona in Tuesday’s first leg, but Leo left injured at halftime. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal for PSG in the 79th tied it before keeper Salvatore Sirigu gifted Xavi a penalty in the 89th, forcing Blaise Matuidi’s stoppage-time response salvaging 2-2.

THE ELEPHANT LEFT THE ROOM: Such is Messi’s greatness that the possible absence of this 5-foot-7 predator from Argentina has overshadowed an utterly fascinating game, which UEFA promises is to be played with or without the world’s best player.

A game featuring three of the other top 10 vote getters in this year’s Ballon d’Or. Andres Iniesta was third, Xavi was fourth, and Ibrahimovic was 10th. Thiago Silva is often lauded as the best central defender in the world, and PSG teammate Lucas Moura’s a rising star, at 20, with speed and skill in abundance.

But it is Messi challenging history itself, pointing both hands to the sky after almost exactly half of Barcelona’s goals this season, and eight of Barca’s 17 UCL goals. Left back Jordi Alba is next – with two.

Not expected to start, Tito Vilanova may have Messi available on the bench if needed. Marca’s readers in Spain voted that Messi shouldn’t play, probably aware hamstring injuries are famous for lingering, and the semifinals start in less than two weeks.

It isn’t just Messi’s frightening dominance, it’s that he plays every single game. Saturday was Barcelona’s first game this entire season Messi didn’t appear in.

CAN’T SCORE WITHOUT IT: While Messi’s club never takes the field without him; many of Barca’s players frequently do, together. Eight Barca players appeared for Spain in the Euro 2012 final victory over Italy, Barcelona is essentially the Spanish national team without Messi. And Spain’s possession as defense philosophy, and its phenomenal success, has never gotten its due.

Consider this absurd fact, which PSG is forced to. During its 10 knockout games at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, Spain never conceded a single goal prior to penalty kicks. Barca has two away goals, PSG must score, an unenviable position against any team -- especially a team not unlike Spain.

BARCA’S WEAK BACK: "We're struggling with a lot of injuries at the back. (Carles) Puyol has had surgery, (Eric) Abidal is coming back from an extremely long and serious illness, Adriano's injured, and now (Javier) Mascherano is too. But we have enough quality in the squad to replace them, " Xavi said.

Marc Bartra, a 22-year-old La Masia product owning 10 league appearances in four years, started Saturday’s 5-0 win over Mallorca. Defensive mids Alex Song and Sergio Busquets are also imperfect options in central defense.

THE SKINNY: PSG played almost too well early in Paris, luring its players into Barca's game. Earning set pieces, grinding on Barca’s inexperience at the back, with Ibrahimovic muscling home a winner would be ideal. Matuidi’s suspended, so David Beckham may start again.

"With or without Messi, it is the same for us. To reach the semifinals, we still have to win." said PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Pedro’s energy would be welcomed back by the Blaugrana, especially without Messi. Cesc Fabregas recorded the first hat trick of his career Saturday, that and his familiarity with the false nine position may see him starting.

PSG must disrupt the Xavi-to-Iniesta metronome that is Barca’s finest defense. Les Parisiens have enough talent to win every third game against a weakened Barcelona. But is this that one?



1 comment
  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: April 10, 2013 at 8:42 a.m.
    Can't wait for the game to start...


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
ICYMI | MLS: It doesn't pay to bet on favorite    
Do not ever think of betting money on MLS as form does not exist.
U.S. Abroad: Bornstein adds new chapter to legend    
Jonathan Bornstein is writing one of the great stories in the history of Americans abroad. No ...
NWSL Weekend: Chicago pulls ahead    
The Chicago Red Stars opened up a four-point leads in the NWSL when it won their ...
Julian Green called in for U-23s at Toulon Tournament    
Julian Green, who played for the USA at the 2014 World Cup, has been called in ...
Road to Vancouver: Ticas take three U.S. collegians    
Penn State's Rachel Rodriguez and Shirley Cruz of UEFA Women's Champions League runner-up Paris St. Germain ...
Road to Vancouver: Mexico takes 14 U.S. players    
Mexico will take 14 players who were born or raised in the United States, including late ...
What They're Saying: Robbie Keane    
"The problem is I think with people in Europe -- and this won't be Stevie's case ...
What They're Saying: Alex Morgan    
"I have experienced sexism multiple times, and I'm sure I will a lot more. I feel ...
What They're Saying: France U-17 coach Jean-Claude Giuntini    
"He was determined to take the penalty. There was no way I could refuse him." -- ...
Friday: Shared interests foster Beckham's Miami meeting    
Friday could be a decisive day as David Beckham seeks to get the ball rolling on ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives