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28.11.2018 07:07
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BARCELONA, Spain -- Lionel Messis hamstring injury has hurt more than just a muscle in the Argentines right leg, and its still smarting. The Barcelona forward scored 60 goals in all competitions this season, enough to ensure the team wins the Spanish league title yet again. But with Messi struggling to recover from the injury he picked up in the Champions League quarterfinals in April, Barcelona was eliminated from that competition in the semifinals. And last weekend, Messi re-aggravated the injury and is now likely to miss the last three games of the Spanish season. "Hes the No. 1, perhaps the best in history," Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said Tuesday before stating what seems to be the obvious. "On many occasions, we depend on him." The 25-year-old Messi won his fourth straight player of the year award this season, and has scored an amazing 133 goals over the last two campaigns. But without the Argentine on the field, Barcelona is just not the same team that has won two of the last four Champions League titles. Most teams would consider the Spanish league title a resounding triumph, but Messi and his Barcelona teammates expect more after winning 14 of a possible 19 trophies in recent years. "We set the bar so high that now you win the league its like you havent won anything," Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said Wednesday. "We had won so much and yet we still have to value (this title). There is a lot of pressure. If you dont win the Champions League its like you havent won anything." This "Messi-dependence" surely is a disease any other club in the world would love to contract. But with Messi hurt against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals, Barcelona could not find the sure scoring threat it needed. It even seemed that Barcelona didnt believe it could win without him. And it didnt, losing 3-0 in the second leg after the 4-0 rout in the first. Unless he returns for Barcelonas season finale against Malaga on the first weekend in June, Messi will end this season with a league-leading 46 goals -- four short of his own record of 50 from last season. He also scored eight more in the Champions League, four in the Copa del Rey, and two in the Spanish Super Cup. Last season, Messi scored 73 goals to break the previous European club record of 67 goals set by Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller in 1972-73. Even so, the Argentina star was reduced to tears when Barcelona somehow lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals. This year, Barcelona was obliterated by Bayern, and that historic 7-0 scoreline makes a big difference for a team which for the first time in five years wont start next season as the favourite in Europes top-tier competition. Not, that is, unless it makes some major changes to its aging squad. Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova insists he will maintain the teams core and that its humbling Champions League exit wont change his plans for the off-season. Yet Barcelona has players that may not be physically able to execute the pressing defence that underlies its famed ball-control and passing game. Captain Carles Puyol is 35 and Eric Abidal, whose contract is up in June, is 33 and only recently returned from a liver transplant. Fellow defenders Dani Alves will be 30 and Javier Mascherano 29 by the start of next season, while the injury-prone Adriano is 28. Midfielder Xavi Hernandez, the heart of Barcelonas passing attack, is 33, striker David Villa is 31, and midfielder Andres Iniesta recently turned 29. "A season when you win the league is always a good one," Vilanova said, looking on the bright side before turning to the seasons big disappointment. "We regret not being able to compete better in the semifinals of the Champions League. Next season will be even more difficult, but well try to be there again." Cheap Stitched NFL Jerseys . As he recorded his 23rd and 24th points of the evening, a segment of the sellout Air Canada Centre crowd expressed their appreciation for the Raptors point guard with a smattering of MVP chants. Authentic Stitched NHL Jerseys .C. United of Major League Soccer. United chose the defender in the second round of the 2013 MLS re-entry draft. Cheap College Stitched Jerseys . Robinson finished with 17 points, all but two in the second half, and Lawson had 14 after halftime and finished with a game-high 11 assists as the Nuggets handed Dallas its first home loss in eight games this season. J.J. Hickson led Denver with 22, and Kenneth Faried added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Stitched Soccer Jerseys Online . The 15th-ranked Canadian men lost the opening two games of their European tour: 19-15 to No. 17 Georgia and 21-20 to No. OKLAHOMA CITY -- Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren will return to action Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder after missing 13 games with a head injury.Suns coach Earl Watson made the announcement before the game. Warren averaged 17.7 points and 4.3 assists in 13 games, all starts. Watson said during his pregame announcement that Warren would not sstart.ddddddddddddThunder guard Victor Oladipo missed his third straight game with a right wrist sprain. He fell hard on the wrist Dec. 11 against the Boston Celtics. Oladipo is the teams No. 2 scorer at 16.1 points per game. 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