Messi fitness doubts dog Barca

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Mar 2018 10:56:25




BARCELONA must decide whether to field Lionel Messi as they resume their bid for the Liga title away to Sevilla on Sunday amid doubts about their talisman’s fitness at the start of a gruelling period of seven games in 22 days.Messi missed Argentina’s friendlies against Italy and Spain due to a muscle problem sustained after Barca’s last Liga outing against Athletic Bilbao and only completed half of a training session on Thursday.He is the top scorer in La Liga with 25 goals and has featured in all but one of Barca’s league games this campaign, only sitting out the match against Malaga following the birth of his third son.

The trip to Sevilla is likely to be Barca’s hardest away game left this season although their 11-point lead over nearest challengers Atletico Madrid gives coach Ernesto Valverde wiggle room in their bid to reclaim the title.Barca have the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against AS Roma on Wednesday and five more games, culminating in the Cup final against Sevilla on April 21 before earning a seven day rest before their next league game.

Barca have failed to win on two of their last three visits to Sevilla’s famously atmospheric Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, however, and will be keen to extend their 36-game unbeaten record in the league.They are targeting the Liga record of 38 games unbeaten, held by Real Sociedad from the 1979/80 season.Valverde said he was not overly concerned about Messi’s fitness and laughed off suggestions his forward would be affected by Argentina’s humiliating 6-1 defeat to Spain on Tuesday. Messi left his seat at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium immediately after the sixth goal went in.“Messi has a bit of discomfort but we think it’s nothing important. We’re relaxed,” Valverde said.“Argentina only lost a friendly. The World Cup hasn’t started yet and not all our players will be able to win it.”

Ronaldo to sit out Las Palmas trip: Reports

REAL Madrid’s top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo is to sit out his side’s La Liga trip to Las Palmas on Saturday in order to be in prime shape for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Juventus, Spanish media reported on Friday.Ronaldo has been in resurgent form after a slow start to the season and has scored 18 times in the league in 2018, plundering four goals in a 6-3 win over Girona in Real’s last game.He struck both goals in Portugal’s 2-1 win over Egypt on March 21 and started the 3-0 defeat by the Netherlands on Monday. Real trail runaway leaders Barcelona by 15 points and are third in the La Liga standings.Spanish daily Marca said Ronaldo has agreed with coach Zinedine Zidane to remain in Madrid while his team mates make the two-and-a-half hour plane journey to the Canary Islands.

Ronaldo, 33, has started and scored in all eight of Real’s Champions League games this season and is the runaway top scorer in the competition with 12 goals.He has been persuaded to skip the occasional league game, particularly away from home, and was rested for Real’s 2-1 win at Leganes and their 1-0 defeat at Espanyol in February. Ronaldo did not feature in any of his side’s six games in the Kings Cup. Real’s quarter-final tie with Serie A leaders Juventus is a repeat of the 2017 Champions League final, which the Spanish side won 4-1 with two goals from Ronaldo.