Messi will have to show no mercy

BARCELONA - Barcelona will be relying on Lionel Messi's impressive scoring form against Stuttgart tonight in the second leg of the Champions League knockout round.

BARCELONA - Barcelona will be relying on Lionel Messi's impressive scoring form against Stuttgart tonight in the second leg of the Champions League knockout round.

Barcelona earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg three weeks ago.

But the European champions have sputtered lately and have had to rely on Messi, who has scored their last six league goals to keep the team at the top of the standings with Real Madrid.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn't scored since the match against Stuttgart, while Thierry Henry has only three goals this season as the France striker has fallen out of favour with coach Pep Guardiola.

Messi has scored 29 goals in all competitions. "He's the best in the world. What he brings with his talent puts him above," said goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has also stood out. "Messi can become the best player in history."

Henry's impressive display in Sunday's 3-0 win over Valencia does provide some relief inside Barcelona's locker room.

"When Henry is motivated, he brings a lot to the team," assistant coach Tito Vilanova was quoted as saying by sports daily Sport.

Stuttgart coach Christian Gross said a win over Barca "would be the greatest success in my career as a trainer". - Sapa-AP

X