No point resting Lionel Messi, says Barcelona boss Valverde

Lionel Messi is having yet another season to remember. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019

No point resting Lionel Messi, says Barcelona boss Valverde

  • Barca face Villarreal on Tuesday and Atletico Madrid on Saturday ahead of Champions League clash against Manchester United.
  • But despite 10-point lead in La Liga Barca boss insists Argentine ace will play both league matches.

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi will probably play against Villarreal in La Liga this week, because “there’s no suitable scenario for resting” the Argentine superstar, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Monday.

Barcelona are 10 points clear at the top of the Spanish League ahead of Tuesday’s away game, followed by a home tie with second-place Atletico Madrid on Saturday and then Manchester United away in a Champions League quarterfinal next Wednesday.

“We attach great importance to this game,” Valverde said of the Villarreal game before acknowledging that “many people have their sights on the Champions League and also the Atletico game.”

“We’ll see tomorrow about Leo,” Valverde said of his 31-year-old forward who has 31 league goals so far this season.

“The three points tomorrow are worth the same as those against Atletico,” Valverde said.

“It is a perfect match to win,” he said, when asked about rotating his squad. “It does not escape me that our rivals are waiting for a slip to feed their hopes of catching us. We don’t want give it any opportunities.”

“There are nine games, if we win six we are champions,” he added. “But having to win six games does not mean we have the league won, we have a lot of work to do.”

Valverde said he did not think renewed rumors that Antoine Griezmann was going to leave Atletico for Barcelona would not destabilize either club.

“It’s the usual stuff, we’re used to it,” said Valverde.


Halep wins Dubai tiebreaker to secure 20th title

Updated 23 February 2020

Halep wins Dubai tiebreaker to secure 20th title

  • Wimbledon champion wins her second Dubai Championships title

DUBAI: Top-seeded Simona Halep won her 20th singles title after prevailing in a third-set tiebreaker to beat Elena Rybakina 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the Dubai Championships final on Saturday.
No. 2-ranked Halep was 3-1 down in the third set. The Romanian broke to lead 6-5, but Rybakina’s powerful hitting forced the tiebreaker. Rybakina led 4-3 but Halep converted the only match point.
“It was amazing,” Halep said of the 2 1/2-hour final. “(Rybakina) fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I want it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”
The Wimbledon champion won her second Dubai title.
Rybakina knocked out Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in earlier rounds, and was playing her fourth final of the young WTA season. She’s lost three of them.
Rybakina is projected to rise two spots to a career-high No. 17 in Monday’s rankings update.
“She’s strong. She’s tall. She has power,” Halep said. “I think she’s really good to get into the top 10 very soon.”