• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 12:37am
SportSoccer
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Barca favourites despite key injuries, says Xavi

Midfield ace Hernandez insists Catalan giants are still favourities to beat PSG, even with a depleted defence and possible absence of Messi

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 4:13am
 

Xavi Hernandez believes Barcelona are still favourites in their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain despite a number of key injuries in defence and the possibility that Lionel Messi could also miss the second-leg.

The first leg ended 2-2 in Paris last Tuesday thanks to Blaise Matuidi's last-minute strike for the hosts but the biggest blow for Barca was the injuries suffered by Messi and Javier Mascherano.

Four-time world player of the year Messi still has a chance of returning for Wednesday's clash at the Camp Nou but Mascherano's knee injury will see him miss the majority of what remains of the season.

But Xavi said that two away goals and home advantage should still be enough to see Barca into their sixth consecutive Champions League semi-final.

"We have 90 minutes left at home and we will play in front of our fans, who showed the top level of devotion in the game against Milan," he said. "The shame has been the injuries, Mascherano's just as much as Leo's. We are going to see how Leo is - Mascherano, it seems, will miss four to six weeks and they are important absences. But we have a good result, we are favourites, playing at home and there are 90 minutes to play."

The tie promises to be another special night at the Camp Nou after Barca produced a stunning comeback to reverse a 2-0 first-leg deficit to beat AC Milan 4-2 on aggregate in the last round.

Xavi pinpointed that match as a key moment in the Catalans' season as they target a third Champions League triumph in five years. "I think that definitely was a turning point because we had just lost in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid which was a real blow for us," he said.

"But the team recovered well, returned to being intense and we returned to seeing perhaps the best version of Barca in attack.

"The high pressing that we had lacked in the previous games also returned. We pulled our socks up and managed to comeback against a great team like Milan."

The loss of Mascherano only compounded an already tricky situation for Barca at the back with captain Carles Puyol and Adriano also injured, while Eric Abidal has just returned from 14 months out of action after undergoing a liver transplant.

Marc Bartra started Saturday's 5-0 win over Mallorca alongside Gerard Pique and is expected to keep his place. .

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