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Messi is fit, but Barca have problems elsewhere

Apr 23, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT

Barcelona's Messi celebrates after scoring his second goal against AC Milan during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Barcelona

The big question ahead of today’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal between Bayern Munich and Barcelona involved an Argentine genius, and its been answered in the last hour. Good news everyone, Lionel Messi is fit.

Barca’s four-time world player of the year has been given the all clear ahead of the blockbuster clash with Bayern.

Messi came off the bench in the quarterfinal with PSG to lift Barcelona into the UCL semis for the sixth year running, however the 25-year-old hasn’t featured since due to a lingering thigh injury.

But Messi isn’t Barca’s only injury concern, as most of their back line has been decimated. Carlos Puyol and Javier Mascherano are out injured, while Adriano is suspended. Eric Abidal — who returned to action for the first time in 14 months at the weekend after recovering from a liver transplant —  could step in to partner Pique at the back, as Tito Vilanova reshuffles his backline for the visit to the Allianz Arena.

MORE: Champions League Preview, picking favorites between Bayern Munich, Barcelona

In the past Barcelona have suffered with defensive absentees, with Mascherano having to fill in at center back on several occasions. They’ve coped when teams have turned up and ‘parked the bus’ at the Camp Nou, as so often happens.

But not many teams, if any, have attacked a makeshift Blaugrana back line the way Bayern plan to tonight. (2:45pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel)

Yes, Barca have a huge array of attacking talent, but so do Bayern. And with Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez and Franck Ribery in fine form, the Catalan club could be up against it in Bavaria tonight. Munich are the competitions top scorers with 22 goals, Barca are the second highest with 18 in 10 games. Both teams have conceded 10 times… there really isn’t much between them. (Has anyone got a coin to flip?!)

So will Barca’s defensive reshuffling prove the difference in the first leg? We will have to sit back, relax and enjoy the footballing master class that’s set to ensue. Champions League is back folks, enjoy.

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