17 C
October 4, 2022

Champions League: Barca wary of last year’s mistake, Messi may play

KAZAN – Lionel Messi could return for Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Rubin Kazan with the Spanish champions determined not to repeat last year’s costly mistake of taking the Russian side too lightly.

Rubin drew 0-0 at home and then stunned Pep Guardiola’s outfit 2-1 at the Nou Camp in the group stage last season.

“Last year they taught us a thing or two. You have to win the three points on the field of play,” Barca sports director Andoni Zubizarreta told the club’s website (www.fcbarcelona.com) before the Group D match.
“Rubin surprised us beating us at home and this had an effect on the group standings. (In the away leg) the weather conditions and the way they played made it very complicated for us.

“This time we go with one game under our belts and at a time of year when the weather is a little milder.”
They are also lifted by news that Messi, whose ankle injury from a week ago has been a major talking point in Spain, had been included in the squad. Even though he has not been passed fit yet by the club’s medical staff, he is expected to play a part.

Valencia should not get carried away with their strong start to the season and must be fully focused when they host Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday, goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez said on Monday.

The financially-troubled Spanish club were forced to sell prize assets David Villa and David Silva in the close season and the consensus was that they would be unable to match their third-place finish in La Liga last term.

However, new strikers Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz have settled well and pacy attacking midfielders Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez have been in sparkling form to help Unai Emery’s side to the top of the domestic standings after five matches.

Valencia kicked off their Champions League campaign with an impressive Group C win over Bursaspor, thumping the Turkish champions 4-0 away as United stuttered to a 0-0 home draw with Scottish side Rangers.

“Being top of the (Spanish) league is always nice but at this level it’s irrelevant,” Sanchez said on Valencia’s website (www.valenciacf.com).

“We are on a very good run, all members of the squad feel very useful and the big beneficiary is the group but we still haven’t won anything,” the former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur player added.

“September is not even over yet and there is a long way still to go to reach our objectives.

“We mustn’t let ourselves be distracted by anything that could stop us coming out for our next match on peak form.” (Reuters)

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