Scouting report: Suarez injured in Barcelona win
Manchester United's next Champions League opponents, Barcelona, moved closer to winning the Spanish league title on Sunday evening by recording a 4-1 win at Real Betis. However, the victory may have come at a cost after Luis Suarez was taken off with an injury.
Barcelona subsequently issued a statement on Suarez's condition, saying: "The approximate time of loss will be between 10 and 15 days. The player will make his recovery with the medical services of the club and will not join with the selection of Uruguay.”
The leaders of La Liga will of course play United at Old Trafford in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on 10 April, before the return fixture takes place at Camp Nou six days later.
Ousmane Dembele could miss both legs of the much-anticipated tie, after the France international suffered a hamstring injury in last Wednesday’s European win over Lyon. Speaking afterwards, Barca manager Ernesto Valverde told reporters the player would be unavailable for up to four weeks.
“He had some annoyance the day before, but I decided to risk him because it was such a decisive match,” Valverde said of Dembele in his press conference. “And, according to the scoreline, I decided to bring him on, although he will now be out for three or four weeks.”
A STANDING OVATION
Barcelona’s 4-1 win at Real Betis made the headlines after Lionel Messi scored a sensational hat-trick – his 33rd in La Liga - to help his club move 10 points clear at the top with 10 matches left to play.
The Argentina superstar's first goal was a 20-yard free-kick and his second, a toe-poked strike, came from Suarez's backheeled pass. The best of the lot, however, was a clipped finish that went in off the bar late on, which led to him receiving a standing ovation from the Betis supporters.
“I cannot remember anything like this before and I'm very grateful for the fans' reaction,” said Messi. “I'm very happy for the victory, which was very important.
"We were playing against a team that treats the ball very well but the coach read the game perfectly from a tactical point of view.
“The title is in our own hands but nothing has been decided. Worse things have happened before. We have a great advantage but there are many points to play for.”
PLENTY OF RESPECT
Barcelona head coach Valverde has also spoken positively about Solskjaer’s United in the Spanish media, and warned his players must be wary of the club’s famous fighting spirit.
“It is difficult, but we knew any draw would be in the quarter-final of the Champions League,” he explained afterwards. “All teams have high hopes and fully deserve to be where they are.
“United are a historic European and world team, as we are, so it's an attractive tie and difficult. They're stringing together good results at the moment, so it's a very open tie that either side can win.
“They did well with a great result away to PSG so we must be careful. They do not give up and they were carrying a lot of injuries, which they probably won't against us. It's one to look forward to.”
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