Pandemic stoppage can benefit Barcelona, says Messi

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi believes the long break caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be a boon for Barcelona.

“Maybe this stoppage will end up benefiting us, but we will have to see if we are restarting the competitions and then we will know the truth,” Messi told Spanish sports daily Sport on Friday.

Barcelona and Spain’s football leagues have not played since March 12, when La Liga halted action as the country’s COVID-19 virus outbreak picked up speed. More than 27,000 Spaniards are known to have died from the disease.

Messi did not cite his reason for thinking the stoppage would be good for Barcelona, but the return of strike partner Luis Suárez from injury is surely one, and resetting another.

Another boost could be more rest. Barcelona has suffered big losses in key matches in the Champions League in the last three seasons, including last season’s 4-0 debacle at Liverpool in the semi-finals.