Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 11th 2014 Contents A50
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 11, 2014
MADRID---For Atletico Madrid,
Lionel Messi has returned at the
worst possible moment. And the
Barcelona forward is eager to
make up for lost time going into
what could prove the most
important matches of the season.
Messi is back from a two-month
injury layoff and is available today
at the Vicente Calderon Stadium,
where Barcelona takes on co-leader
Barcelona coach Gerardo Mar-
tino s biggest dilemma doesn t
seem to be tactical, but whether
or not to play Messi from the start.
"He hasn t asked me to start.
He s told me he feels in perfect
playing conditions," Martino said
yesterday. "It s not an easy decision
to make because we re talking
about the world s best player. And
Leo is coming off a long period of
Messi certainly didn t show any
lingering effects from a left ham-
string injury when he came off the
bench to score twice in Wednes-
day s 4--0 cup win over Getafe.
"What we have to evaluate is if
he can play 90 minutes, which
we ll decide tomorrow. We re not
going to waste all of the work and
hours put in by Barca and Argenti-
na s physical trainers, and even by
him himself, to get back on the
field," Martino said. "When it
comes time to decide we ll forget
about the opponent and remember
that this is not a game being played
(at the end of the season) but on
January 11. It is a decisive match,
but not crucial."
Curbing Messi s desire to play
when injured has been one of Mar-
tino s greatest tasks since taking
over from Tito Vilanova. Martino
suggested Messi will play as a sub-
stitute in Madrid.
"Leo likes to starts and finish
games, so the best way to keep
him calm is to start him on the
bench before letting him come on,"
the Argentine coach said.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone
was preparing his team for Messi,
as well as Neymar who has been
cleared to play after picking up a
"Barcelona without Messi
tomorrow (today)? We don t
believe that. I can t imagine him
sitting out the game tomorrow,
although it s always a possibility,"
Simeone said yesterday. "But my
players aren t afraid of anyone, and
that s key."
Simeone has maintained a
mantra of teamwork and humility
as keys to his team s success, qual-
ities the former Argentina inter-
national believes helped the club
win its last title---in 1996. Only
Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia
have broken the Barcelona-Real
Madrid monopoly since.
"They have a deep squad which
includes a lot of different skilled
players. I think this Barca is more
dangerous than before, it s even
better than the one that won (six
titles)," Simeone said. "It s not a
final, it s just another very impor-
tant league game. We ll just try to
play the same way we did against
them in the (Spanish) Super Cup."
Barcelona managed to win that
two-legged competition on away-
goals, although Atletico emerged
with more confidence after the 1--1
aggregate result. Atletico will close
the first half of the season with its
best ever points total---the two
teams are tied on 49 points from
18 games---regardless of the result.
"I said it during the Super Cup
that they are a very strong team,"
Martino said. "To me, Atletico
Madrid has not only been one of
the most disciplined, well-coached
teams in Spain, but in Europe."
for return of
Messi after injury
PARIS---Title challenger Monaco
missed the chance to close the
gap on league leader Paris Saint-
Germain after drawing 1--1 away
to draw specialists Montpellier
Teen striker M Baye Niang, who
is on loan from AC Milan, earned
a point for Montpellier with a goal
in the 68th minute, shortly after
left back Layvin Kurzawa had given
Monaco the lead with his second
goal in four games.
Monaco is two points behind
defending champion Paris Saint-
Germain, which has a game in
hand and plays away to Corsican
side Ajaccio today, while Mont-
pellier s 12th draw from 20 games
leaves it hovering one place above
the relegation zone in 17th.
Lille can overtake Monaco and
move into outright second place
if it beats Reims at home tomor-
Radamel Falcao was looking for
his first league goal in nearly two
months, but the Colombia striker
wasted his only decent chance of
the match in the 31st minute of
an otherwise quiet performance.
Montpellier winger Remy Cabel-
la went close in the 42nd as he
was thwarted by goalie Danijel
Subasic, and Monaco almost won
the match in the last minute when
Belgium winger Yannick Ferreira
Carrasco forced a fine save from
goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren. (AP)
Niang goal earns Montpellier
draw with Monaco
scored two goals to help
lift Granada to an easy
4--0 Spanish league win
over Valladolid yesterday.
Recio, whose full name
is Jose Luis Garcia, fol-
lowed up Jeison Murillo s
opener by scoring from
a corner in the 23rd for
the hosts to seize control
of the game at Los
Recio took advantage
of a defensive mishap in
the 54th to make it 3--0
before Youssef El Arabi
finished off Granada s
victory with the final goal
in the 77th.
Granada improved to
ninth at the halfway
point of the season, while
Valladolid remained in
the relegation zone.
The 19th round of
games continues today
when co-leaders Atletico
Madrid and Barcelona
meet. Real Madrid is at
Espanyol tomorrow. (AP)
Granada rolls over Valladolid 4--0
Links Archive January 10th 2014 January 12th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page