Vilanova defends Messi call

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova insisted he was right to play Lionel Messi at the weekend after the Argentine sat out the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Last Updated: 02/05/13 at 13:10 Post Comment

Lionel Messi: Watches from the bench as Barcelona crash out of Europe

Lionel Messi: Watches from the bench as Barcelona crash out of Europe

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

The World Player of the Year has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but he was passed fit to feature in Barca's 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

However, Messi watched from the bench as Bayern cruised into the Champions League final with a 7-0 aggregate victory, and Vilanova admitted the Argentine was left out because he feared he would aggravate the injury.

"Leo played in Bilbao on Saturday because he felt better," said Vilanova. "He imprinted a change on the team but at the end of the game he felt some strange sensations.

"He trained this week, but he didn't feel right. He is an explosive player and there was a risk he could tear his hamstring, so he couldn't help the team in these conditions."

Vilanova also denied suggestions that his team were becoming too reliant on Messi, insisting Barca had performed well without their record-breaking talisman.

"All these years when we have played without Leo we have won games by small margins, but this year in the league we have won games 5-0 and 3-0 without him on the pitch," he added.

"When you have a player that is so good, it is normal that you notice it. If Bayern had been without Franck Ribery or Arjen Robben they would not be at this level."

Vilanova also dismissed speculation of widespread changes to the Barcelona squad at the end of the season, and blamed the crushing defeat on a lengthy injury list.

"All squads are reinforced every season. I said the other day that we didn't need to change much, but rather recuperate the players we do have," he said.

"Bayern have arrived at this point with all their players and we have many out. Despite the great squad that we have you cannot win all the titles either. You can't win everything and the first leg has weighed heavily on this game."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

heck Opta stats.... Sterling is already better than Alexis on pace and creativity and when he can match him physically he will be ten times the player Sanchez ever was or will be!!

hoggylfc
Rodgers: Sterling can be striker

I

expect Pulis to have a nice Christmas dinner with his family- probably all sitting around the table wearing Christmas themed baseball caps, before he gets the call. Realistically he could end up at any number of clubs, it'll be interesting to see which club folds first.

mark.m
For Foxes' Sake, Call The Pulis...

A

s a Liverpool fan, I personally hate Palace. My pick would probably be Arsenal, which is funny because it seems the vast majority of their own fans don't even like them right now.

mark.m
Who Has Got The Likeability Factor?

Footer 365

Premier League: Mario Balotelli handed one-match ban for social media post

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been given a one-match ban by the FA after his controversial post on social media.

Premier League: Agent confirms Hatem Ben Arfa is poised for a January transfer

Hatem Ben Arfa is set for a January move after finding himself unwanted at Newcastle and Hull, his agent has confirmed.

Liverpool: Kolo Toure says Adam Lallana is player of season

Kolo Toure has named Adam Lallana as Liverpool's player of the season despite Raheem Sterling's eye-catching form.

Mail Box

Gonna Party Like It's Your Birthday...

There are an awful lot of folk claiming to share their birthdays with Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, while we have an Arsenal fan who doesn't want to be liked and more...

Manager Of The Month, My A***...

We have a Newcastle fan having a pop at his manager, some mild reaction to last night at Bournemouth, a justication of that Falcao cost and why the Neviller rules...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property