Barca wait on Messi; Real, Bayern on brink

LONDON – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have one foot in the Champions League last four as they go into this week’s quarterfinal second legs while Barcelona face a harder fight for their berth with doubts over the availability of injured Lionel Messi.
Burak Yilmaz of Galatasaray is challenged by Sergio Ramos (L) and Sami Khedira of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match. Net photo.
Burak Yilmaz of Galatasaray is challenged by Sergio Ramos (L) and Sami Khedira of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match. Net photo.

Quarterfinal 2nd Leg:
Today
Galatasaray     vs     Real Madrid    20:00 SS3
Dortmund     vS     Malaga        20:00 SS5
Wednesday
Barcelona     vs     PSG        20:00 SS3
Juvnetus    vs    Bayern        20:00 SS5

LONDON – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have one foot in the Champions League last four as they go into this week’s quarterfinal second legs while Barcelona face a harder fight for their berth with doubts over the availability of injured Lionel Messi.

With Real holding a comfortable 3-0 lead over Galatasaray before Tuesday’s trip to Istanbul and Bayern travelling to Juventus with a 2-0 advantage on Wednesday, two semifinal spots seem already taken.

The other ties are much more delicately balanced with competition favourites Barca locked at 2-2 before hosting Paris St Germain on Wednesday and Borussia Dortmund tied at 0-0 before entertaining debutants Malaga on Tuesday.

The goals and magic of World Player of the Year Messi would usually be enough to dig Barca out of any sticky situation - as they did against AC Milan in the previous round - but if the Argentine does not play the team will need a different approach.

Messi sat out Saturday’s 5-0 win at home to Real Mallorca in La Liga with a hamstring problem, the first league game he has missed through injury since the 2010-11 season.

He had physiotherapy and did some fitness work on Sunday but it was unclear whether he would be fit to face PSG.

Barca, though, still have reason for optimism that they can reach a sixth successive Champions League semifinal as Messi’s stand-in against Mallorca, Cesc Fabregas, netted a hat-trick and coach Tito Vilanova was back on the bench after cancer treatment.

They are in good spirits after the return to competitive action of defender Eric Abidal following a liver transplant, while they remain 13 points clear of Real at the top of La Liga and have not lost at home in Europe for more than three years.

“There is life beyond Messi,” Barca wrote on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es). “Maybe it’s not as beautiful, but it exists.”

Qatari-backed PSG geared up for the Barca trip by fielding a largely reserve team in a 2-0 win at Stade Rennes that restored a seven-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Brazil centre back Thiago Silva is a doubt because of a knee injury he sustained in the first leg, while holding midfielder Blaise Matuidi is suspended and could be replaced by Clement Chantome, who could feature alongside David Beckham.

There could be three Spanish sides in the last four as Malaga enjoy a dream run in their first season in Europe’s elite club competition.

There has never been a tie that has ended 0-0 after two legs since the Champions League format began in 1992-93 and Malaga know any away goals they score at Dortmund could be key.

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