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May 2, 2013

Vilanova defends Messi decision

Tito Vilanova has defended his decision not to involve Lionel Messi as Barcelona departed the Champions League against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, citing that the forward had suffered "some strange sensations".

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Messi, 25, was an unused substitute at the Camp Nou as Bayern clinched a famous 3-0 victory that booked their place in the final at Wembley versus Borussia Dortmund courtesy of a 7-0 aggregate success.

The Argentina international, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury, played 30 minutes at the weekend and was on target in his side's 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao, but Vilanova said he was not prepared to risk his player against Bayern unless absolutely necessary.

"Messi was not injured, but he was not feeling okay, and I thought that in his situation he would not help the team," Vilanova told reporters.

"He played in Bilbao because he was in much better condition, but at the end of the game he contracted some strange sensations.

"We would have taken the risk of playing Leo towards the end of the match if we still had a chance of making the final."

Vilanova reserved praise for Barca's Champions League opponents, who have already clinched the Bundesliga title and are also in the final of the DFB-Pokal where they will face Stuttgart.

He said: "Bayern are physically at a great level. The difference today between the sides was massive and I congratulate them on their progression, but also thanks to our fans for their support.

"We've been suffering with injuries all season and at this level you pay for that. Every squad needs to be changed, but we have a good squad already. We don't need to make a lot of changes as we have some players who are still recovering."

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