Friday, 19 April, 2019

Barcelona rest Messi ahead of Manchester United rematch

Getty Images  Etsuo Hara Getty Images Etsuo Hara
Cary Erickson | 14 April, 2019, 09:44

STAR MAN - In amongst a heavily rotated side, in which some of Barca's players struggled to replicate the quality of the players they replaced in Ernesto Valverde's side, Riqui Puig was the star of the show.

Kean opened for the scoring for the visitors when the 19-year-old stuck his foot out to direct a Juan Cuadrado effort into goal after half an hour in Ferrara.

Juventus drew 1-1 with goals from Ronaldo and David Neres, Barcelona registered a narrow win over the Red Devils courtesy of an early Luke Shaw own goal.

But SPAL struck back in the second half, with Kevin Bonifazi finding the net before Sergio Floccari scored to ensure the home side took the three points.

"We had a brief chat and shook hands", Smalling, 29, told BBC Radio 5 Live's Football Daily podcast.

Kean broke the deadlock when he redirected a tame Cancelo drive, thrusting out his right boot to turn the ball beyond Emiliano Viviano.

Messi has scored 43 goals and created a further 21 strikes in 40 matches across all competitions for the Blaugrana thus far this season.

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Ronaldo was rested for the second time this season and the club fell to just their second defeat of the campaign.

But SPAL held on to move up to 13th after beating Juventus for just the second time after 1957.

Roma has a crucial match next week as it travels to third-placed Inter Milan.

Barca are a comfortable 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga with seven games to play.

"And then the victor of City-Tottenham, as we were saying, is an English team that reaches a semi-final and goes to play against Juventus or Ajax so I really used to say this all the time when you get into a semifinal you have 12.5 per cent possibility equally to win the competition".

"We can't forget that we need ten points to be champions, no matter how much we think that we might be there already". Champions League contenders Torino and Atalanta host Cagliari and Empoli on Sunday and Monday, respectively.