Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi had little impact in win over Man Utd because of rough treatment after first-half foul left him with a bloodied face.
Lionel Messi was left stunned by his treatment at the hands of Manchester United. That’s according to the Barcelona genius’ coach Ernesto Valverde, ahead of Tuesday’s decisive return leg of the Champions League quarter-finals the Catalans lead 1-0 after winning at Old Trafford last week.
Superstar Messi was flattened by a physical challenge from United defender Chris Smalling, whose flailing arm left him on the deck with a bleeding nose. His face swollen for the rest of the match, Messi appeared to go into his shell after the incident and had little further impact on proceedings.
The Argentinean was rested, along with almost the entire XI that had played in Manchester, for the weekend La Liga win over bottom side Huesca, and Valverde insists Messi is fit again and raring to go with a semi-final against Liverpool or Porto up for grabs in the Nou Camp.
“I don’t think he is worried about the same thing happening again,” said Valverde. “He is fine, he is perfectly fine after the blow he suffered. He was okay a couple of days after it. But he was a little bit stunned at the time, although he’s okay now for this game and ready to go.”
Valverde knows his side are in the driving seat and red hot favourites to book a place in the last four, but admits the one thing he fears most about United is their famous fighting spirit.
“I don’t know what the team of United’s is going to do, but we do know that we have examples of what they have done in the Champions League away from home this season,” he said. “Manchester United have a special thing. They won a European Cup in the last few minutes (1999) – so we have to keep that in mind. We know that our rival can go on the counter-attack, so we cannot allow that. What I fear most is the spirit that they have. We respect them as a team for what they are and the history they have. You can feel their spirit on the pitch and we expect to see that here.”
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