Barca waiting on Messi fitness

Lionel Messi has gone from being the first name on Barcelona’s team sheet to the last, as they await a late fitness test ahead of tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg at home to Paris Saint-Germain.

The World Player of the Year is recovering from a hamstring strain picked up in Paris, when he scored in the 2-2 first-leg draw, though Barca proved they could survive without him by thrashing Real Mallorca 5-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

With La Liga all but in the bag, as Barca lead second-placed Real Madrid by 13 points with eight games left, coach Tito Vilanova may be inclined to risk his prize asset against PSG.

Vilanova also has to decide who will partner Gerard Pique in the centre of the defence as Javier Mascherano is out with a knee injury and Carles Puyol is a doubt as he recovers from knee surgery. Inexperienced former youth-teamer Marc Bartra performed well alongside Pique on Saturday but versatile full back Adriano Correia is close to fitness again and midfielder Alex Song could even be drafted in at the back.

“We’ll see what options we have against PSG,” Barca’s assistant coach Jordi Roura said. Eric Abidal’s emotional playing return as a substitute on Saturday, a year after his a liver transplant, puts him in the running but he is unlikely to start.

PSG’s influential centre-back Thiago Silva is in the squad after missing Saturday’s 2-0 win at Stade Rennes in Ligue 1. On Saturday, coach Carlo Ancelotti had seven of the 11 players who started the first leg either benched or not even on the team sheet as he looked to rest tired legs.

Ancelotti, however, has a problem to solve in midfield due to the absence of the suspended Blaise Matuidi. David Beckham, Marco Verratti, Clement Chantome and Thiago Motta could all play there. Centre-back Alex has recovered from a thigh problem and is in the squad.

BARCELONA (probable): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Bartra, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Sanchez, Fabregas, Villa.

PSG (probable): Sirigu; Jallet, Alex, Silva, Maxwell; Lucas, Beckham, Verratti, Pastore; Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi.

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