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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019

'We can win if the short one doesn't play': Sporting's Jesus hoping for more Messi rest

The Portuguese side’s manager had a cheeky request after seeing the Argentine benched in Turin

SPORTING CP HEAD coach Jorge Jesus said he believes his side can cause an upset in Barcelona after their hopes of qualification for the Champions League knockout stages were kept alive thanks to a 3-1 win over Olympiacos.

The Portuguese side must take all three points from their trip to Camp Nou and bank on Juventus failing to beat Olympiacos in Greece if they are to clinch second place in Group D, but with Barcelona already through to the last 16, Ernesto Valverde might field a weakened side against Sporting.

Looking ahead to the challenge after seeing his side perform well against Olympiacos, Jesus underlined the odds his team had overcome in pushing Juventus and Barcelona so close, and indicated that finishing third in the group and going into the Europa League would be no disgrace.

“We are going to Camp Nou to play a group stage featuring two of the best teams in the world,” he told reporters. “The Europa League for now is a lesser evil.

“Not even the most confident believed Sporting would make it to the final round of qualifying.

“I think we can win, especially if the short one [Lionel Messi] does not play. I hope that Barcelona rests players.”

Bas Dost scored his first two Champions League goals of the season against Olympiacos, either side of a goal from Bruno Cesar.

Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe pulled one back for Olympiacos four minutes from time, but Jesus was happy with his side’s overall performance.

“There were two aims: winning the game and trying to make sure players who were returning from injuries didn’t relapse,” he said.

“It was a good game, although at 3-0 the team ended up having some positioning problems and only then we suffered the goal.”

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