Sunday 19 November 2017

Gunners grooming has helped Cesc fire straight away - Messi

Pete Jenson

Lionel Messi believes the eight years Cesc Fabregas spent at Arsenal have been just as important in his immediate adaptation at Barcelona as his formative years with the Catalan club.

Messi is the only player to have scored more league goals for Barcelona this season than Fabregas, who has struck four times in six La Liga starts, and the pair have reformed a partnership that began when they played two seasons together as teenagers.

"I have a very good understanding with Cesc, not only because we played together as kids but because Arsenal played the same way as us when he was there," said Messi.

The Argentinian forward is on a hat-trick of hat-tricks, having scored three goals in each of his past two games. Tomorrow night Barcelona face a revitalised Athletic Bilbao side managed by one of Pep Guardiola's inspirations, Marcelo Bielsa. He visited the former Chile and Argentina coach before deciding to take over the first team at the Nou Camp.

Leaders Real Madrid, who face Osasuna, tomorrow play their first ever home game to kick off at 12.0. The attempt to challenge the Premier League for the Asian TV market is behind the move from the main rights holders in Spain MediaPro, who dictate kick-off times.

In Italy, Milan face Catania tomorrow with Antonio Cassano having successfully come through a 35-minute heart operation. The Italian is not expected to play again this season.

Genoa's match at home to Inter Milan tomorrow has been postponed after flooding in the city killed at least seven people, including two children.

"Genoa has also requested the suspension of all matches involving the club's youth teams as a sign of mourning," the club said in a statement yesterday. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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