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By Sports Desk June 25, 2020

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  • Lewandowski's extraordinary but Messi's from another planet – Vidal Lewandowski's extraordinary but Messi's from another planet – Vidal

    Arturo Vidal is well aware of the threat posed by Robert Lewandowski ahead of Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich, but remains convinced Lionel Messi gives the Blaugrana the edge.

    Both Barca and Bayern came through their last-16 ties relatively comfortable in the end, Quique Setien's side beating Napoli 4-2 over two legs and the German champions crushing Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.

    Such an emphatic progression, coupled with their form after the coronavirus-enforced pause, has led to many deeming Bayern to be frontrunners to win the competition.

    Lewandowski will surely be crucial if they do go all the way – the Poland striker having scored 53 times across all competitions this term, including 13 in just seven Champions League matches.

    But claims from former Bayern players that Lewandowski is ahead of Messi are wide of the mark, according to his former team-mate Vidal.

    "Lewandowski is extraordinary, very dangerous, a tireless scorer," the Chilean told reporters ahead of the showdown on Friday. "I was with him three years; I know how he prepares. It will be very difficult to stop him.

    "But comparing him with Leo [Messi] is impossible, because Leo is from another planet, although Lewandowski is the best striker alongside Luis Suarez."

    Setien agreed, stating: "Lewandowski is a great footballer but I don't think he's up to Leo's level.

    "It's clear, [Lewandowski] is in a great moment and he's very well assisted by team-mates who can hurt us, but we also saw Leo against Napoli. It's good that we can enjoy footballers like that."

    Another player who has caught the eye since the Champions League's resumption is Neymar, who produced a typically exuberant – albeit somewhat wasteful – display as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Atalanta to reach the last four on Wednesday.

    The Brazilian is reportedly a long-term target of Barca, the club he left to join PSG in 2017 for a world-record fee, and Vidal acknowledged that Neymar would strengthen the Blaugrana.

    "It is understood that Barca wants to recover him [Neymar], not only because of yesterday's game," Vidal said.

    "He was already at Barca and had an exceptional performance, he showed his level. He is very talented and would help the team a lot, but I don't know more.

    "We only think about Bayern and going through tomorrow. It is difficult to speak at the moment about other players."

  • Dembele back and Setien confident Barcelona can match Bayern Munich Dembele back and Setien confident Barcelona can match Bayern Munich

    Barcelona have Ousmane Dembele fit again for their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, with coach Quique Setien confident his side can hold their own.

    Winger Dembele has been out since November after rupturing his thigh muscle but is in line for a long-awaited return in Lisbon on Friday.

    Setien told a pre-match news conference: "We have arrived in good spirits. This is the game we are waiting for. We have prepared well.

    "It is a satisfaction for all of us that Dembele is in the squad and I think he will be in a position to participate for a few minutes if we consider it appropriate.

    "We are excited that he can play and get it right."

    Bayern look well placed to go all the way in the competition, having romped to a domestic double in Germany and swept Chelsea aside in their previous European tie.

    Barca, on the other hand, lost their LaLiga title to rivals Real Madrid and have struggled to convince in recent months.

    But Setien remains positive of their chances, saying: "Of course, we are convinced we can go through.

    "We know the potential of the opponent, their numbers and their capacity, with extraordinary potential, but we have that, too.

    "I think it will be an even game. We have a lot to say in this game."

    The coach is keen to ensure Lionel Messi is not left to do the job alone, however, even if he is highly likely to play a key role.

    "Leo can help win the game, obviously, but I have always believed in the strength of the team," Setien said.

    "We will have to assist Leo because both Messi, like any other outstanding player, is weaker without the strength of the team."

  • Davies will take care of Messi, claims Bayern chief Davies will take care of Messi, claims Bayern chief

    Alphonso Davies is capable of managing Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi in the Champions League quarter-finals, according to Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

    Davies, still just 19, joined Bayern from Vancouver Whitecaps in January 2019 but has forced his way into Hansi Flick's first team this season.

    The speedy Canada winger has forged a starting role at left-back, meaning David Alaba has played in the centre of defence while Lucas Hernandez has spent much of his first Bundesliga campaign injured or on the bench.

    Davies was named the German top flight's Rookie of the Season and particularly excelled in both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.

    Now, in the final eight in Lisbon, Davies might be tasked with handling six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

    But Rummenigge told Sky Sport: "Alphonso had a great season and was rightly voted Rookie of the Season.

    "Should Messi play on his left side, Alphonso will take care of him. It will be a difficult but interesting task. Davies hasn't been dribbled past or overrun much this season."

    Davies is certainly relishing the prospect of taking on his boyhood idol, telling UEFA.com: "Growing up, I used to watch him all the time and now I'm defending against him; it's going to be a whole different ball game.

    "But for me, it's just playing my game, changing nothing on my side and just hopefully doing my best against him.

    "We know that he's a great player - we're not going to take that away from him - so the best you can do is try, I guess."

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