Vilanova has no regrets over Messi


Messi was stretchered off near the end of the game after colliding with Benfica custodian Artur, and the Argentinian will have to undergo further tests on his bruised left knee before the full extent of his injury is known.
Most of the pre-match hype on whether the 25-year-old could equal, or even possibly break, Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year, but Vilanova opted to start the diminutive forward on the bench and only brought him on just before the hour mark.
With Barcelona having already secured qualification as group winners prior to this game, Vilanova’s decision to bring Messi on for what was essentially a dead rubber game for the Catalan giants was not well received, especially in light of the injury he sustained. However, the 44-year-old tactician declared that his decision to bring Messi on had nothing to do with the record, and claimed that he would have no qualms in doing the same thing if confronted with the same situation. “We talked about the possibility of him playing for 30 minutes,” Vilanova was quoted as saying by the official Barcelona website.
“He’s a player that likes to play … he’s not focused on breaking the record that everyone is talking about, if that were the case he would have played against Alavés and the full 90 minutes tonight [Wednesday]. “Playing is part of his physical training. “We should sub him out every time we’re leading 3-0 lest he picks up an injury but we’ve never behaved this way.
“If I had a do-over I’d make the same decision [bringing Messi on] seeing that he can get injured at any moment.”
Nonetheless, Barcelona can now look forward to the next stage of the Champions League, and although they could be drawn against the likes of Arsenal and AC Milan, Vilanova remained adamant that he would be fine with whoever the Blaugrana were drawn to play with next. “I have no preference,” Vilanova said when asked about which team he would like to play against in the next round of the Champions League.