Barcelona v PSG: Doubts remain over the fitness of Lionel Messi

Sides are level at 2-2 ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have one foot in the Champions League last four as they go into this week's quarter-final second legs while Barcelona face a harder fight for their berth with doubts over the availability of injured Lionel Messi.

With Real holding a comfortable 3-0 lead over Galatasaray before Tuesday's trip to Istanbul and Bayern travelling to Juventus with a 2-0 advantage on Wednesday, two semi-final spots seem already taken.

The other ties are much more delicately balanced with competition favourites Barca locked at 2-2 before hosting Paris St Germain on Wednesday and Borussia Dortmund tied at 0-0 before entertaining debutants Malaga on Tuesday.

The goals and magic of World Player of the Year Messi would usually be enough to dig Barca out of any sticky situation - as they did against AC Milan in the previous round - but if the Argentine does not play the team will need a different approach.

Messi sat out Saturday's 5-0 win at home to Real Mallorca in La Liga with a hamstring problem, the first league game he has missed through injury since the 2010-11 season.

He had physiotherapy and did some fitness work on Sunday but it was unclear whether he would be fit to face PSG.

Barca, though, still have reason for optimism that they can reach a sixth successive Champions League semi-final as Messi's stand-in against Mallorca, Cesc Fabregas, netted a hat-trick and coach Tito Vilanova was back on the bench after cancer treatment.

They are in good spirits after the return to competitive action of defender Eric Abidal following a liver transplant, while they remain 13 points clear of Real at the top of La Liga and have not lost at home in Europe for more than three years.

"There is life beyond Messi," Barca wrote on their website (http://www.fcbarcelona.es). "Maybe it's not as beautiful, but it exists."

Qatari-backed PSG geared up for the Barca trip by fielding a largely reserve team in a 2-0 win at Stade Rennes that restored a seven-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Brazil centre back Thiago Silva is a doubt because of a knee injury he sustained in the first leg, while holding midfielder Blaise Matuidi is suspended and could be replaced by Clement Chantome, who could feature alongside David Beckham.

There could be three Spanish sides in the last four as Malaga enjoy a dream run in their first season in Europe's elite club competition.

There has never been a tie that has ended 0-0 after two legs since the Champions League format began in 1992-93 and Malaga know any away goals they score at Dortmund could be key.

Malaga's preparations for the game have been far from ideal, though, with the death of coach Manuel Pellegrini's father, a 4-2 defeat at Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday and the team's plane being hit by lightning on the way to that match.

BIG LEAD

Fellow La Liga side Real Madrid enjoyed a far better warm-up to their second leg at Galatasaray, thumping Levante 5-1 in the league on Saturday despite having rested several first-choice players.

First-leg goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have put nine-times European champions Real within grasp of a 24th semi-final appearance although they are not getting carried away.

"It's a tough match and our passage to the next round is not yet assured. Three goals is a big lead but we have to go there and play and at least get one goal," Ronaldo told reporters.

Centre back Sergio Ramos and midfielder Xabi Alonso are suspended for Tuesday's game at the Turkish side, who have won once at home in this season's competition and have reached the semi-finals only once, in 1988/89.

Newly crowned German champions Bayern Munich are in a similarly comfortable position after David Alaba scored inside 30 seconds before Thomas Mueller added a second in their first leg at home to Juventus last week.

Last season's losing finalists, who are looking for a third semi-final appearance in four seasons, secured their 23rd German league title in record time on Saturday by winning 1-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Juventus, however, will take some hope from the fact that they have won all five European quarter-finals they have played against German opponents.

Reuters

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit