Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Champions League

Lionel Messi © Action Images

Lay off Messi - Guardiola



Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola declared Lionel Messi fit to play in Tuesday's Champions League showdown with Chelsea and laughed off concerns about the Argentinian's scoring record.

Despite a remarkable year which has left Messi four goals shy of equalling Gerd Muller's all-time single-season scoring record of 67, questions have been raised about the South American's failure to find the net in recent matches.

Messi drew a blank against Chelsea in last week's 1-0 first leg defeat at Stamford Bridge and cut a frustrated figure once more at the weekend as the Catalans suffered a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

News that Messi had missed training on Sunday also triggered alarm about his fitness for Tuesday's return match.

However Guardiola told a press conference on Tuesday the Fifa world player of the year was fit to play.

"Leo had a gastric issue, the doctor saw him and he called us before the training session to say he wouldn't be coming in, but now he's okay," Guardiola said, before waving off questions about Messi's mini goal-drought.

"Allow me never to worry about Lionel Messi," Guardiola said.

"He cannot score for 27 games but then he will score three goals or give three assists. So let's give him licence to spend however long he needs without scoring.

"How many goals has he scored this season? He's scored an incredible amount. He lives for scoring, helping his people. Let him be happy on the pitch."

Guardiola meanwhile said he was confident that if Barcelona were able to reproduce their performance of the first leg – when they enjoyed 70 percent possession, hit the woodwork twice and carved out a string of clear chances – they would be able to overturn Chelsea's 1-0 lead.

"We will have to have balance between rhythm, pace, patience and intensity," Guardiola said. "We need to think that we have 90 minutes ahead of us and that with patience and intensity we can make it."

He also dismissed concerns that Barcelona would struggle to raise themselves for what their third major match inside six days.

"Tomorrow there's no tiredness in the legs. Maybe in the mind. But in the semifinal of a Champions League, no matter if we play three days ago or yesterday – tomorrow we'll be ready to try and reach the final."

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R161.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
Mitre Monde Soccer Ball - White
Voted as one of the UK's favourite match balls
R219.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk



Carol Radull
How do you pay tribute to Thierry Henry?
If you’re a fan of the classic musical “The Sound of Music” then you will be familiar with the...

Dr Errol Sweeney
Some refs invite criticism
Why is it that some referees appear to invite criticism? Why is it that some referees put a...

Neil Tovey
Backing Tinkler for the big time
With Vladimir Vermezovic having jumped ship, Orlando Pirates find themselves in a state of flux.

Chima Emmanuel Aguma
Wenger in or out? I say out!
After Arsenal’s loss to Stoke City this past weekend, the call for Arsene Wenger to step down as...

Sunday Oliseh
Football's new undisputed best club?
When Barcelona appointed Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2008, their primary objective was to stop...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Make or break time
Ten years ago today, I remember Andy Gray's iconic commentary at Anfield, when Steven Gerrard...