The FC Barcelona coach expects a tough match on Sunday, pointing out that “we haven’t won on our last two trips there and they’ve already beaten Real Madrid this year”
“If Messi travels it’s because he’s ready to play. There are still a lot of hours until kick off and we’ll see how he’s feeling on Sunday night”, said Vilanova
Tito Vilanova has Messi in the squad this weekend.“If he travels it’s because he’s ready to play. If there was the slightest risk, he wouldn’t be going” the FCB coach explained at his press conference on Saturday, the day before travelling to face Betis. On the opposition, Tito said that “with Pepe Mel they have always made things hard for us. One of my worst moments on the bench in recent years was a cup match away to Betis. We haven’t beaten them on our last two trips there, and we have to remember that this season they have already beaten Real Madrid. They create a lot of pressure up front and it’s not easy to play comfortably against them”.
He was asked about certain members of the Betis attack, but replied that “whoever plays, we won’t be changing our approach … I’d prefer it for them to put pressure on our defence because that means they’ll be leaving spaces at the back”.
Messi in squad
He also provided further details on Messi’s progress. “He completed training on Saturday without any kind of trouble. There are still a lot of hours until kick off and we’ll all evaluate the situation together and decide whether he’ll play the full 90 minutes or just part of the match. The important thing is that he’s feeling okay … But he could easily wake up in the morning and tell us he’s feeling pain again”.
The manager continued by saying that “I think Messi was comforted when he found out that it’s not a serious injury. If he wants to be in the squad because he’s not feeling any trouble, then so much the better for us. But he doesn’t need to make this kind of effort to show how much he loves this sport”.
Happy for Alexis, Alves and Bartra
“The injury situation is pretty good at the moment, but sadly there will always be players out. Experience tells us that it’s not worth planning when somebody plays or when another doesn’t. You have to take things a day at a time … Alexis has recovered faster than we expected. He’s fit and we hope he can play some of these games and get back into the right rhythm”.
Finally, Vilanova preferred not to speak about their very favourable league position. “We certainly do have a good lead, but in a three-point championship, things can change overnight” he said.