Barca look to Messi miracle in return-leg of Champions League semis

Barcelona, April 30 (IANS) FC Barcelona look for a miracle called “Messi” to help them to what would be the most remarkable fightback of all time to take the club to the final of the Champions League at Wembley.

Barca entertain Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final in the Camp Nou Stadium Wednesday night knowing they have to overcome a 0-4 defeat from the first leg last week, reports Xinhua.

That leaves the Catalan’s with a mountain to climb and the fact they failed to score an away goal in Germany, means should Bayern score in Barcelona, Tito Vilanova’s men would need to score sixth.

It is a massive ask and all the more so because of the manner of the defeat in the first leg. Not only did Bayern score four goals, but they totally outplayed a sluggish Barca in all areas of the park, snuffing them out in midfield, crowding them out in attack and then finishing them off with pace and power in attack.

Messi played in Munich, but the Argentinean looked to be a shadow of himself, due to a hamstring injury, and had it been any other game, he almost certainly would have been rested. He was rested for an hour at the weekend in Bilbao, but then came on to make a devastating cameo appearance, scoring a magnificent equalizing goal before setting up Alexis Sanchez to net his side’s second.

All of a sudden the mood around the club changed and the feeling that “Messi is back”, has brought a new optimism to a club where, although everyone said last week, they would do their best and that they were obliged to try and at least win the return leg, there was little sign that anyone actually believed it was possible to turn the tie around.

Messi’s recovery has at least given them hope, but Vilanova has plenty of questions to answer before the game, such as who will partner Gerard Pique in central defense: Javier Mascherano could force his return after a knee injury, while Adriano or Marc Barta also have options as does Eric Abidal, who played the first 45 minutes in Bilbao and could just have been rested to see him fit for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sergio Busquets has been way off his best form of late and is suffering from a pelvic injury that may see him replaced by Alex Song in central midfield and in attack Alexis Sanchez and David Villa could partner Messi.

Bayern showed themselves to be fast and aggressive in Munich and coach Jupp Heynckes has promised that his side will not sit defend their lead, which given that an away goal will put them virtually out of reach is a wise policy.

His side will be without Javi Martinez through suspension and the Spaniard’s presence will be missed after his fine first leg display, but Bastian Schweinsteiger is a guarantee in the central midfield role, while up front Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery assure pace on the break.

Bayern have lost two Champions League finals in the past three years and this time they want to go all the way to lift the title. Messi is probably the best player in the world, but if he is able to inspire his side to an epic fightback, it will need one of his greatest ever performances.

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