Barcelona take on Zaragoza in crucial La Liga tie

Madrid: FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola faces a dilemma when his side visits Zaragoza`s La Romareda Stadium Saturday night.

Barcelona kick off the game in the second place in the table, three points behind Real Madrid, who travel to Valencia the same day. It is clear that following their 2-2 draw away to Athletic Club Bilbao a fortnight ago Barca can`t afford to drop any more points, but Guardiola`s side also face a vital Champions League game next week when they travel to play AC Milan for the leadership of their qualifying group, Xinhua reported.

The importance of that game and the tiredness of several players following their international duty could force Guardiola to make changes on Saturday.

Star player and top scorer with 14 league goals, Lionel Messi announced that he was "dead" on his feet following his part in Argentina`s 2-1 win in Colombia Tuesday night. Messi had previously played for his country at home against Bolivia.

Others such as Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa have also returned from a long trip as they formed part of Spain`s squad that played in Costa Rica Tuesday.

Adriano returned home injured from the Brazil squad and will miss the match with a hamstring problem.

Messi may well be in line for a rest, but given his importance to the side, Guardiola is certain to include him on the subs` bench in case things do not go according to plan against a limited side that has an excellent coach in Javier Aguirre.

Xavi will probably start in midfield, where he is likely to be partnered by Thiago Alcantara, who returned 24 hours earlier after being on Under-21 duty. Meanwhile, young winger Isaac Cuenca also has a good chance of starting after strong performances in recent games.

In defence, Eric Abidal and Dani Alves will start as full backs with Puyol and Pique in the middle of the back line.

Zaragoza lost 6-0 at home to Real Madrid on the first day of the season. Barcelona will be hoping, if not for a similar margin of victory, then at least for a comfortable win.


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