Wednesday 21 March 2018 / 12:39 AM

Will Messi Play?

Barcelona could well be without star man Lionel Messi for their crunch Champions League quarter-final second leg tie against PSG on Wednesday evening but the Catalan giants will still be fancied to get the job done at Camp Nou following the 2-2 first leg draw in the French capital last week.


Blaise Matuidi’s somewhat fortunate stoppage time strike gave PSG a lifeline heading to Spain after it looked certain that Barca would hold on to a narrow 1-2 success, however that slice of luck may just have delayed the inevitable with the favourites expected to dominate from all angles in front of their own supporters.


Messi’s potential absence is of course far from ideal for Barca but with the likes of Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez more than capable of stepping up to the plate and taking centre stage, it will be a fine opportunity for the hosts to demonstrate their remarkable strength in depth.


PSG will be more reliant than ever on target man Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Swede will have to produce a strong performance in order to hold the ball up for long periods and bring his midfielders into play.


Carlo Ancelotti’s side are likely to be under the cosh for the majority of the ninety minutes and it really will be quite some achievement if they manage to force any kind of result against the four times champions who are starting to find top gear.


Barcelona’s El Classico rivals Real Madrid already have one foot firmly placed in the last four following their 3-0 first leg victory over Galatasaray at the Bernabeu and should coast through to the next round in Istanbul.


Los Merengues will be bracing themselves for a daunting atmosphere inside the Turk Telekom Arena but a display anywhere close to a week ago from Jose Mourinho’s men will be comfortably enough.


The same can perhaps be said for Bayern Munich however their task should be a little more complicated as they head to Turin to face Juventus two goals to the good at the halfway stage.


Playing at home in the first leg definitely suited the German’s as the Bianconeri would have much preferred to go to the Allianz Arena for the second leg defending a lead.


Instead, the Italian’s are left chasing the tie at the Delli Alpi after being stunned by a first minute strike in Munich which put them straight on the back foot.


Juve will need in form striker Mirko Vucinic to spearhead a similar early breakthrough and a European classic could be on the cards if that occurs.


Borussia Dortmund and Malaga round off the last eight ties with the 1997 winners in charge following a 0-0 first leg stalemate at La Rosaleda.


Dortmund are a very strong proposition at the Signal Iduna Arena and can make their chances pay this time around after squandering a plethora of opportunities in Southern Spain.


The exciting prospect of all German/Spanish semi-finals now looks a real possibility and all four of the likely semi-finalists will be confident of getting their hands on the most coveted trophy in club football.

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Chris Kisby

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