BARCELONA, España (AP) — Con Lionel Messi o sin Lionel Messi de inicio. Ese es el gran interrogante que se plantea el Barcelona en vísperas del partido de vuelta por los cuartos de final de la Liga de Campeones, este miércoles en el Camp Nou contra el Paris Saint Germain.

El competitivo astro argentino, lesionado en el cotejo de ida en Paris la pasada semana, saldado con empate por 2-2, presiona para ser titular en el choque decisivo; pero los servicios médicos del Barsa temen una posible recaída de su dolencia en el bíceps femoral de la pierna derecha y, pendientes de su evolución, aconsejan descanso.

La reciente reincorporación del timonel Tito Vilanova tras una prolongada baja por someterse a un tratamiento contra el cáncer se antoja más que oportuna para afrontar decisiones tan trascendentales como la participación o no de Messi en un partido donde el PSG necesita la victoria o igualar por más de dos goles para sellar el boleto a la siguiente ronda.

Al Barsa le bastaría aguantar el 0-0 para alcanzar su sexta semifinal de Champions consecutiva, pero el conjunto francés acumula veneno suficiente como para plantear un partido de alto ritmo con jugadores dinámicos y talentosos como el brasileño Lucas Moura, los argentinos Javier Pastore y Ezequiel Lavezzi y, sobre todo, el sueco Zlatan Ibrahimovic, autor de un gol y una asistencia en Paris.

El retorno del goleador al Camp Nou, donde vistió de azulgrana hace tres temporadas, es visto con recelo por la afición "culé", especialmente tras su convulsa salida del club por diferencias con el entonces entrenador, Pep Guardiola.

Su duelo personal con Messi, al que Guardiola privilegió tácticamente sobre Ibrahimovic, es otro gran aliciente de una eliminatoria que los parisinos esperan se asemeje a la de 1995, cuando eliminaron al Barsa en cuartos tras empatar 1-1 en Barcelona y ganar 2-1 en el Parque de los Príncipes.

Ante la previsión de un alto ritmo de juego y considerando las características explosivas del fútbol de Messi, Vilanova medita dejar en el banquillo a "La Pulga" y recurrir a él solo en caso de imperiosa necesidad. El riesgo de recaída es alto y, aunque la liga española está prácticamente sentenciada a favor del Barsa, con 13 puntos de ventaja sobre el Real Madrid cuando restan ocho fechas para la conclusión, el objetivo de la cuarta corona continental en ocho años requiere medir finamente entre exceso de celo y temeridad.

La goleada del sábado por 5-0 sobre el Mallorca en el torneo doméstico, con Messi reservado, avala a los partidarios de la prudencia; especialmente considerando que el chileno Alexis Sánchez resurgió con dos goles y dos asistencias y Cesc Fábregas brilló con un triplete en la posición de falso "nueve" que ha asumido también con naturalidad en la selección española.

"Hay Messidependencia en el sentido de que es el número uno y es fundamental para nosotros, y no lo hay en el sentido de que esto es un equipo y todos sumamos. Ojalá pueda jugar. Tendremos que hacer un partido casi perfecto", consideró en la previa el volante Andrés Iniesta.

Jordi Roura, ayudante de Vilanova, reveló por su parte que "las sensaciones con los lesionados son buenas, pero es prematuro hablar. Si no está, evidentemente es un hándicap, pero tenemos una plantilla extensa y de muy buen nivel. Afrontamos el partido como una final".

Más que en la delantera, los problemas del Barsa se acumulan en la defensa con las lesiones de larga duración de Carles Puyol y el argentino Javier Mascherano. La reaparición el sábado de Eric Abidal tras una larga ausencia por someterse a un trasplante de hígado no significa que el francés esté aún preparado para las exigencias de un duelo europeo de alto voltaje, por lo que Vilanova posiblemente recurra a la polivalencia del brasileño Adriano, sobre la inexperiencia de Marc Bartra para acompañar a Gerard Piqué en el eje de la zaga.

El técnico Carlo Ancelotti también ha jugado al despiste con la presencia del central Thiago Silva en las filas del PSG, el segundo equipo con menos goles recibidos (20) de las grandes ligas europeas; pero parece segura la presencia del brasileño junto a su compatriota Alex, pues ambos fueron reservados el sábado en la victoria por 2-0 sobre el Rennes. De los presumibles titulares, solo jugaron el partido completo el arquero Salvatore Sirigu, el lateral Maxwell e Ibrahimovic, firmante del segundo tanto para cimentar el liderato en la liga francesa. Blaise Matuidi, autor del segundo contra el Barsa, es baja por sanción.

"La clave será jugar con confianza, carácter y paciencia. En la ida demostramos que tenemos opciones", comentó Ancelotti.

Pese a ganar previamente en cancha de otro equipo español, el Valencia, al que eliminó en octavos, el cuadro parisino no ha exhibido aún el gran fútbol que su colección de estrellas parecía acreditar y enfrenta también la poderosa estadística de local del Barsa, que no pierde un partido europeo en su estadio desde el 20 de octubre de 2009, contra el Rubin Kazan.

"Venimos con confianza por el resultado de ida. Aquí hay que jugar con personalidad. Es una oportunidad única para nosotros y hay que aprovecharla", alentó Maxwell.

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