The 1-1 draw at Calderón last week was what Tata, if not the least, could expect to take away. The header from Brazilian superstar Neymar pulled the Catalans back from the edge of cliff, saving the hope for their season’s first championship.
While the entire team is preparing for the battle at Camp Nou at full speed, Messi’s mysterious injury, however, poses a question mark in front of Tata’s envision. The Argentine star has been continuously bothered by the discomfort of his right knee for almost half a year. In recent 27 games Messi completed just one, the first leg of Champions League’s semi-final against FC Bayern, though he seemed as if invisible on the pitch and contributed little. Can Messi play as startup tonight? No one can confirm until the starting whistle at Nou Camp.
Messi’s doubtful condition suggests that Tata need something to cope with. Fortunately, Barca is never a team lack of super stars. The recent rocketing of Cesc as a shadow striker comforts the coach and suggests that he is the Mr Right if Messi could not play. In addition, Neymar’s last key score declares his first startup-day is coming. So that Martino’s urgent task is to work out an backup maneuver for the team without Messi, without losing too much on the attacking side.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Neymar and Cesc will be on the first-eleven with Pedro or Alexi competing for the rest in the front, if Messi cannot recover. The conventional La Masia-made triangle: Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio will occupy the mid-field. At the back, Alba will be the left-wing back while the constantly highlighted Mascherano will play with Pique as center backs. Then the last question is who will be on the right side, Alves or Adriano?
From my perspective, it depends on Martino’ attitude to the game. If he wants to secure the current favorable result with the least risk, then he will pick Adriano since the Brazilian winger seldom assists the frontier and keeps the balance of formation. On the other hand, if an overwhelming victory is what the coach desires, the Alves will be on the right. Because he is the one with the magic to generate attacks out of fatigueless forward running.
So, will messi be in the startup? What action would Tata take if Messi were still absent? We are yet to know. But we are confident that Tata cannot afford to stand on the edge of cliff again.