Barcelona can overcome Messi's absence: Iniesta
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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 09, 2013, 23:49
  
Barcelona can overcome Messi's absence: Iniesta
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is hopeful his side can cope without the presence of Lionel Messi for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

The World Player of the Year hobbled off with a hamstring injury at half-time in the 2-2 draw between the two sides in the first leg last week and remains a major doubt for the return at the Camp Nou.

And whilst recognising the Argentine`s importance to the side, Iniesta believes there is still sufficient quality in the Barca squad to carry them to a sixth successive Champions League semi-final.

"Without doubt in this team there is a dependency on Messi in the sense that he is fundamental for us, but we are not wholly reliant on him because we are a team and everyone can score goals," he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Should Messi not be fit then Cesc Fabregas will start in the false-nine role that he starred in for Spain during last year`s European Championship, and indeed at the weekend when he scored his first-ever career hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Mallorca.

"I have the luck that Cesc is a very complete player and he interprets the game very well, not just with me, but with the whole team," said Iniesta.

"He combines very well, he knows where his team-mates are and he moves very well. He has performed at a great level before he came here and now we have the luck to have him here and take advantage of his quality."

Barca assistant boss Jordi Roura also downplayed fears that Barca could struggle in Messi`s absence and said that a decision on whether he would be fit to play won`t take place until after a light training session on Wednesday morning.

"We still have training today and tomorrow until we reach the hour of the game so we will wait," Roura said on Tuesday.

"The sensations are good, but we need to wait for the medical tests and then take a decision.

"When the best player in the world isn`t there it is always a handicap, but we believe in the rest of the squad.

"The best way to prepare for the game tomorrow is like we did for the game against Mallorca. Therefore, if Messi cannot be there, the players that cover his position are players of a high level that offer guarantees."

Roura also hinted that either Adriano or Alex Song could be deployed as a makeshift centre-back to cover for the injured Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

Both the Brazilian and the Cameroonian played at the heart of the defence earlier in the campaign and their experience seems set to be preferred to 22-year-old Marc Bartra, who is a centre-back by trade.

"We have had defensive problems because there are important players out. But at the start of the season the people that played there did well.

"We believe those that play there now will do so as solidly as possible."

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013, 23:49


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