Barça left to sweat on Henry fitness for crucial tie

Thierry Henry remains Barcelona's biggest doubt ahead of tomorrow night's Champions League semi-final against Manchester United after missing training for the second day running complaining of a fever.

It has now been over a week since Henry trained properly with his team-mates and, barring a late surprise, he will start on the bench with 17-year-old Bojan Krkic or Portuguese international Deco taking his place.

Bojan, who scored the crucial first-leg goal against Schalke 04 in the last round would be a straight swap, but Frank Rijkaard, Barcelona's coach, has the option of moving the industrious Andres Iniesta further forward and bringing Deco into midfield.

The former Porto player has not played since injuring himself in the warm-up ahead of a match with Villarreal on 9 March but he insisted: "I'm 100 per cent ready, I could even have played at the weekend, it was the coach's decision not to use me."

Deco would be lining-up against his international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who he yesterday declared to be "the best player in the world, along with Lionel Messi".

The midfielder admitted that Barça was not a happy camp after such a disappointing league campaign but said everything would, be different against Manchester United. "It is evident that we are not happy but we have to make the most of this game. We have failed in the league but the season is not over yet."

It will be an amazing turnaround for Deco if he starts, having only a fortnight ago been implicated in an unofficial club policy of not picking certain players because of their off-the-pitch behaviour. A high-ranking club official, Xavier Sala Martin, had said: "There are one, two or three players who are isolated from the team and we disguise it by saying they are injured."

Rafa Marquez who, along with Ronaldinho, was understood to be the third of those players, will also start tomorrow night in the absence of the suspended Carles Puyol.

Controversy has never been far away this season and Barcelona go into the game fresh from comments made by Samuel Eto'o that he would leave the club if next season turned into a repeat of this one.

The Cameroon international said: "I have reached as high as I can in Barcelona and in Spain. If next season things stay the same without winning anything here, then I will have to go somewhere else because I want to win things."

Such comments will cause Chelsea and Milan who have both been linked with Eto'o in the past, to prick up their ears.

In a more positive vein the forward added: "We are going to get past United and into the final. We are our own biggest problem. If we play as well as we can, then we will put United in trouble."

Johan Cruyff, the Barcelona legend and ever-willing adviser to Rijkaard, believes the work rate of Eto'o and his fellow strikers will be the key for United's opponents.

"The strikers need to be on top of their defence," Cruyff said. "Where do United have all the talent? From the midfield onwards. Where do they have their worst players? In defence. And by worst I mean technically, not physically.

"So if you know they have their worst players at the back, then you have to put pressure on them. Some good pressure will provoke errors when they are passing the ball, precisely because they are not particularly gifted at it."

The club's former player and coach said he believed the game could be decided by a few errors because, player for player, the teams were so evenly matched. He added: "If United have Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona have Messi. If Ferguson's team has Rooney, we have Eto'o. If they have Tevez, we have Bojan or Henry. Scholes? Iniesta. Rio Ferdinand? Milito. As far as individual talent is concerned there is nothing between the two sides."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine