By DANIEL KARELL
Injury or not, don’t rule out Lionel Messi for the upcoming Champions League semifinals.
The Argentine came on in the 62nd minute of Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday and had an instant impact on the match. His status for the match was a doubt in the first place because of a hamstring injury the week before, but Messi said that it was worth the risk to play.
With two weeks until the first semifinal match against Bayern Munich, Messi is expected to recover from his micro-tear on his right leg, though it’s unknown whether he will play in either of the two league matches Barcelona has in the interim.
Here are some more stories to get your Friday kicked off:
CHELSEA TO FACE BASEL IN EUROPA LEAGUE SEMIFINALS
The Europa League draw was released on Friday morning, with two interesting match-ups.
Last years Champions League winner Chelsea has been paired with Swiss club FC Basel, who on Thursday knocked out fellow London side Tottenham in penalty kicks, while Turkish side Fenerbahce are drawn with Portugal leaders Benfica.
Chelsea lost to Rubin Kazan in their second-leg match 3-2, but went through on goal difference 5-4. Fernando Torres scored three goals between the two legs, including an audacious 30-yard lob over the Russian club’s goalkeeper on Thursday, while Victor Moses scored the other two.
Benfica and Chelsea are the two final teams remaining in the competition that started the season in the Champions League.
CORINTHIANS REFUTES TEVEZ LINK
It’s no secret that Brazilian club Corinthians have been interested in reacquiring current Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez, but at the moment it seems like that interest has gone cold.
Speaking at the Soccerex Forum in Manchester, Corinthians Director of Football Edu Gaspar told Brazilian publication Lancenet that the defending Copa Libertadores champs only sign for need, meaning that they currently aren’t interested in signing the 29-year-old.
Tevez previously played with the Timão between 2004-2006, helping the club win the 2005 Brazilian championship. During the Argentine’s bust-up with Roberto Mancini in 2011, Corinthians offered to buy Tevez from City for €40 million, which was ultimately rejected.
WALCOTT AND WILSHERE RETURN FOR ARSENAL
Arsene Wenger will have a much easier time picking his starting XI this Saturday for Arsenal’s match against Norwich.
Both Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere have returned from injury to full time training, and will be available for the upcoming home match. Walcott picked up a groin injury during training with the English National Team, while Wilshere has been out since the start of March with an ankle issue picked up in training.
Walcott, who signed an improved contract last January to stay at the club until 2016, hasn’t scored a goal since Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool on January 30. Wilshere has made 26 appearances for the club in all competitions this season, after missing 14 months of action with ankle and hip injuries.
OLIMPIA, PALMEIRAS SEAL PLACE IN THE KNOCKOUT STAGE
Paraguayan giants Olimpia and Brazilian club Palmeiras have sealed places in the knockout stages with wins on Thursday night in the Copa Libertadores.
Olimpia scored revenge and a massive 4-1 win over Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys to win Group 7. Forwards Juan Manuel Salgueiro and Juan Carlos Ferreyra each scored a brace for the Paraguayan side, while Milton Casco scored the lone goal for Newell’s. In the previous matchup, the Argentine club defeated Olimpia 3-1.
Palmeiras defeated Paraguayan side Libertad 1-0 to go top of Group 2 with nine points and a game to go. Brazilian midfielder Charles scored the lone goal for his side, as the second division club turned around a 2-0 loss to Libertad back in February.
The only other match on Thursday night was a 3-2 victory by Universidad de Chile over Venezuelan side Deportivo Lara, though both sides have been eliminated from the competition.
Atletico Madrid are close to signing Club America forward Christian Benitez. (REPORT)
The German soccer governing body is considering a move to a summer schedule if the World Cup in 2022 is switched to the winter. (REPORT)
Officials in South Africa are considering a ban on Vuvuzelas. (REPORT)
What do you make of these reports? Do you expect Messi to start against Bayern? What do you think of Chelsea’s chances? Do you see Tevez returning to Brazil in the future?
Share your thoughts below.