September 19, 2020

Messi looking for first Champions League win

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Lionel Messi hopes to continue his scoring form tonight

With two hat tricks in his last three games, Lionel Messi looks primed to lead defending champion Barcelona to its first win of this Champions League campaign at BATE Borisov in Group H tonight.

Messi has scored a Spanish league best eight goals this season, but his team will need to avoid repeating the defensive mistakes that led to a 2-2 draw against Milan in their European opener.

AC Milan hosts Viktoria Plzen in the other group match. With Brazil forwards Alexandre Pato and Robinho unavailable, Milan is hoping that Zlatan Ibrahimovic can return from a leg injury against competition newcomer Viktoria, which drew 1-1 with BATE two weeks ago to put all teams in the group level at one point each.

The 24-year-old Messi can climb to second place on the club’s all-time scoring list with another hat trick. He is only two goals away from matching Ladislau Kubala’s total of 194. Barcelona’s top scorer is Cesar Rodriguez, who scored 235 goals from 1942-55. If Messi keeps scoring at the same rate he did last season, he could pass that mark before this campaign is over.

“He is doing incredible things. Each day he surprises everyone with a new record, he continually outdoes himself,” Barcelona forward David Villa said. “Nobody can compare with him, and we are very happy to have him wearing our colors.”

Villa said that even after winning two European titles in three years his team is still hungry to repeat.

“This team knows its potential and that we can reach our goals, but we are also aware that this has just begun,” Villa said.

Manchester United hope to improve on their disappointing draw in the opening match when they face Basle at Old Trafford.

Ashley Young admits he is living the dream at Manchester United ahead of his Champions League debut.

Ashley Young says he’s “living the dream” at Manchester United

Young said: “I’m very excited by it. Coming to a club like Manchester United and playing in these big competitions is any boy’s dream.

“I’m looking forward to being able to say I have played in the Champions League.

“I have been delighted with the performances I have put in so far but the matches are coming thick and fast and you have to be on your toes and ready every time you pull on the shirt.”

Boss Sir Alex Ferguson has a lengthy injury list to cope. Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans (ankle) and Chris Smalling (groin) are all missing.

Antonio Valencia is likely to again be pressed into service as an emergency right-back with Rafael’s injury set to keep him out for the long-term. Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck will battle for the starting spots up front.

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