Apr 23, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT
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.
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.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:36 AM EDT
Mariano Pavone’s first half goal in Toluca delivered La Maquina a record-breaking title.
Apr 23, 2014, 11:56 PM EDT
The Red Bulls’ slow start is quickly becoming a distant memory as New York posted a 4-0 win over visiting Houston.
Apr 23, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT
A future star makes a quick impact as Washington puts week one behind them.
Apr 23, 2014, 5:55 PM EDT
Ronaldo pronounced fit; Benzema breaks through, and Casillas stones Götze.
Apr 23, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Incredible plans to expand Anfield revealed, as public will now have their say:
Apr 23, 2014, 4:51 PM EDT
Tedious Tiki-Taka, counter-attacking clinic and gilt-edge chances:
Apr 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Striker’s 19th minute score gives the nine-time champions a 1-0 lead ahead of next week’s second leg.
Apr 23, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT
Find out who won the PL Player of the Week award, right here:
Apr 23, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT
Which players made the PL team of the week? Find out, right here:
Apr 23, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
The top two remain unchanged, but there’s a major shakeup in elsewhere near the top of our weekly rankings.
Apr 23, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
Andrew Dykstra wants to brew you a beer, and several teams have specific offerings in mind.
Apr 23, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
The big guns will be firing for Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at the Bernabéu, and there’s plenty of ammunition on both benches if needed.
Apr 23, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Reports say David Moyes was “seething” at what he perceived to be an unprofessional dismissal from Manchester United.
Apr 23, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
Bad news for England, as Januzaj is headed for a brand new Belgium kit.
Apr 23, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT
Some slots are firm, while there’s plenty to be settled in the next few weeks. Let’s take a look at whose guaranteed to make the group stage
Apr 23, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT
Speaking with Sports Illustrated’s SI Now, Donovan spent some time lauding David Moyes and lamenting his dismissal from Manchester United.
Apr 23, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT
He’s simply one of the worst that’s ever played.
Apr 23, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT
Shola Ameobi has played a lot of roles during his time at Newcastle; His latest role is vocal critic of the club’s transfer practices.
Apr 23, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
The USMNT midfielder posted this shot to his Instagram account on Tuesday, proclaiming his new stars and stripes knee tattoo complete.
Apr 23, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
The Champions League will make Liverpool more attractive, says its managing director, and the club will spend money to fortify its team.
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