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Creating a Barca Starting XI Without Lionel Messi to Defeat PSG in 2nd Leg

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Creating a Barca Starting XI Without Lionel Messi to Defeat PSG in 2nd Leg
David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona took a slight edge in the UEFA Champions League semifinals as La Blaugrana and Paris Saint-Germain ended their first-leg game in a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.  Tito Vilanova returned to the Barca bench after his time in New York, receiving treatment for his illness. Barca takes an advantage back to the Camp Nou with two away goals in their pocket.

But it came at huge price.

Lionel Messi got the scoring going in the 38th minute, as the little Argentine scored off an amazing pass by Dani Alves. The Brazilian found Leo—who stayed onside—and Messi put one of the best finishes on the half-volley that you'll ever see. Golazo!

Late in the first half, Messi pulled up and grabbed his hamstring. He did not return for the second half, as Cesc Fabregas came on in his place.

In the 76th minute, a corner nearly led to a goal for PSG as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was kept onside by two Barca players, but Victor Valdes made the save.

PSG got the equalizer in the 80th minute as a set piece was headed toward goal by Thiago Silva. His shot hit the post, rolled toward the other post and Ibra scooped it in. The goal should not have counted, however, as Zlatan was very, very offside.

Javier Mascherano exited late in the game with a knee injury. After the game, it was revealed that Masche would be out six weeks. Anims Masche.

A foul on Alexis Sanchez by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu led to a penalty given. Xavi Hernandez stepped up and smoothly delivered the goal to give Barcelona a late lead.

But in the final seconds of the game, PSG equalized as Blaise Matuidi's shot deflected off a Barca player and slipped passed the outstretched fingers of Victor Valdes for the goal.

 

While the draw leaves a bitter taste in Barca's mouth, it is Messi's injury that overshadows everything.

On Wednesday, FC Barcelona confirmed that Messi is out for Barca's game versus Mallorca on Saturday with a muscle thigh injury (via The Guardian). Leo is out for a minimum of 10 days, but he may be available for the PSG game, depending on the doctors' evaluation next week.

With Leo potentially out for the PSG game, Tito Vilanova will have to look at what is the best formation and rotation for his team.

Let's look at the players who will have to step up, and the formations that FC Barcelona could use in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League matchup against PSG.

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