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Sep 14, 2012

Leo Messi still questionable for Barcelona

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's participation in Saturday's La Liga match versus Getafe is still questionable, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova told Marca on Friday.

"This morning I spoke with him, and he said he has recovered well. Tomorrow I will talk with him again," said Vilanova. "It will depend on how he is and then we will decide what we will do."

Messi returned to Barcelona from Buenos Aires earlier this week following Argentina's 1-1 draw versus Peru Tuesday in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. During the match, Messi was held in check, but scored for Argentina during the team's 3-1 victory over Paraguay in the previous match.

Regarding Barcelona's league lead over Real Madrid, Vilanova said he is focused on winning.

"I am only interested in what we do. We have nine points. There are only so many points and the distance is so short that this is not the time to be looking back," he said. "The objective is to win each game. We can't think about two months out. It doesn't work for us. Getafe is a tough match."

Barcelona will be without injured playmaker Andres Iniesta for Saturday's match at Getafe, but could welcome midfielder Thiago Alcantara back from an injury that had sidelined him since May. Defender Carles Puyol could also return with a specially designed facemask to protect his broken right cheek.

Alexis Sanchez (also thigh strain) and Jordi Alba (flu) have also been ruled out.

"The three losses have made me rethink the game," Vilanova admitted. "Not just the starting XI, but also the substitutes. But we cannot do anything about that, when we sign players we know that they will go and play with their national teams. The best way to end the FIFA virus is to win in Getafe".

Getafe has beaten Spain's big two clubs in their past visits to southern Madrid.

"We are playing a very difficult opponent, who beat us last year and who recently beat Real Madrid," Vilanova said. "These are never easy games. Getafe at home sat back a lot and let us have the wings. The same at the Camp Nou. We did not play comfortably against them because they did their job well."

Villa, who is still getting back into top form, agreed.

"Getafe is a match that was already marked off on the calendar, we lost there last season," said striker David Villa, who was still finding his rhythm after returning from a leg fracture. "I need more minutes. I was sidelined a lot of months, almost eight without competing, and that's a part of the process now. With any other team I would have been playing by now."

Vilanova said Villa is nearly ready to play.

"There is a chance that in a short time he could be ready to start, but I see him in better shape," he told Marca.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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