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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Injuries trouble Barcelona, Arsenal

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Arsenal will need to carry the momentum from last week's comeback draw against Barcelona to pull off a Champions League quarterfinal victory at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

News photo
Still standing: Lionel Messi (right) will try to lead Barcelona into the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be forced to alter their starting lineups for the match because of injuries and suspension.

Barcelona is without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and center backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, while Arsenal is hurting even worse with a handful of starters missing, including Cesc Fabregas and Andrei Arshavin.

Following the 2-2 draw in the first leg, Arsenal will need to go for victory since the European champions hold the away-goal advantage.

"We will need all the spirit we have," Wenger said. "The problem we have at the moment is that we are short."

Both teams will take momentum from league wins on Saturday, with an under-strength Barcelona rolling over Athletic Bilbao 4-1 and Nicklas Bendtner's injury-time goal earning Arsenal a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

But neither team will have as many players available as it would like.

Fabregas broke his leg scoring the equalizing penalty in the first leg, although the former Barcelona youth player would not have played in the return match anyway as he was suspended. Arsenal is also without Arshavin (calf), William Gallas (calf) and long-term injury Robin Van Persie.

Wenger said Samir Nasri will lead the offense, while Theo Walcott could play a big part after starting the Gunners' rally last time with a goal.

"Theo has a chance to start the game but he can as well come on again and make a difference," Wenger said. "If it is 0-0 with 20 minutes to go, we will need players who can make a difference."

Walcott appears to be Barcelona's most feared opponent.

"He's faster than our whole team put together," Guardiola said.

Ibrahimovic, who scored both goals at Arsenal, tore a muscle in his right calf, while Pique hurt his leg, although he was already suspended for the game alongside Puyol.

"For any team to be without their two central defenders, the two players who play week-in, week-out, you know they are people they build the team around and it is not good for them — it is good for us," Bendtner said.

CSKA ready for Inter

MOSCOW (AP) A draw against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday will be enough for Inter to advance to the semifinals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

CSKA, meanwhile, must overcome a 1-0 first-leg away loss in Italy last Wednesday to become the first Russian team to reach the last four since Spartak Moscow in the 1991 European Champions Cup.

"Our spirits are high," says CSKA defender Alexei Berezutsky. "We have nothing to lose. A 1-0 away loss is not a 3-0 one. We must score at home anyway, even if we would have played to a scoreless draw in Italy."

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