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

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."

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S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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