Vilanova defends his decision to bench Messi for the clash against Bayern
Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova insists his decision to drop superstar Lionel Messi from the squad for the Champions’ League second leg was right.
Messi was able to shake off a hamstring injury to feature in Barcelona 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. However he was left out of the first XI for the game against mighty Bayern Munich, which German giants won by 3-0 as Vilanova feared the Argentine could aggravate his injury.
Vilanova said: “Leo played in Bilbao on Saturday because he felt better. He imprinted a change on the team but at the end of the game he felt some strange sensations. He trained this week, but he didn’t feel right. He is an explosive player and there was a risk he could tear his hamstring, so he couldn’t help the team in these conditions.”
The Spaniard has also dismissed the speculations that Barcelona is too reliant on their talismanic forward, saying Barca is able to perform well without him. All these years when we have played without Leo we have won games by small margins, but this year in the league we have won games 5-0 and 3-0 without him on the pitch. When you have a player that is so good, it is normal that you notice it. If Bayern had been without Franck Ribery or Arjen Robben they would not be at this level.”
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