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MILAN

Milan can expect Messi magic: Barça’s Pedro

Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez believes Lionel Messi's uncharacteristic La Liga goal drought is nothing to worry about ahead of his side's Champions League encounter with AC Milan on Wednesday.

Milan can expect Messi magic: Barça's Pedro
The four-time World Player of the Year (R) has endured a frustrating month on the domestic front. Photo: Quique García/AFP

The four-time World Player of the Year has endured a frustrating month on the domestic front.

Messi has failed to find the net in his last four La Liga games against Osasuna, Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Espanyol since returning from a thigh injury, marking his longest goal drought for over two years.

However, in the Champions League, Messi has been his usual deadly self with four goals in two appearances so far this season and Pedro doesn't see any cause for concern.

"There is nothing wrong with him, he is training very well and very strongly," he said on Monday.

"His figures are spectacular and when he goes two games without scoring it seems like there is something up. He is always the one who makes the difference.

"Leo is always an ambitious player who wants to score a lot of goals. He looks fine to me, the goals will arrive and even more so if you are Leo Messi, the best player in the world.

"He is working hard and also assisting his teammates, which might go unnoticed. I think he is very calm because he knows the goals will come and everything will be fine."

Messi was the inspirational figure as Barca overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit when the two sides met in the last-16 of the Champions League last season with a 4-0 thrashing of the Italians at the Camp Nou.

And he also netted in the 1-1 draw in the two sides first meeting in the group in Milan two weeks ago.

That point strengthened Barca's position as group leaders on seven points after three games and a win on Wednesday will guarantee their place in the last-16.

The only injury worries for Barca boss Gerardo Martino are in defence as Adriano and Gerard Pique both missed training on Monday.

With Jordi Alba also still out with a thigh problem, Martin Montoya may have to deputise again at left-back with Carles Puyol likely to return should Pique not be fit in time.

Barca's minor worries about Messi pale into insignificance compared to Milan's current troubles as they have made their worst start to a Serie A campaign since 1981-82.

Saturday's defeat to Fiorentina was already Milan's fifth of the season so far, leaving them a whopping 19 points behind leaders Roma after just 11 games.

There had been suggestions that coach Massimiliano Allegri could even be sacked should his side lose in the Catalan capital, but club vice-president Adriano Galliani has appealed for calm.

"At the moment the results are not coming, but in these times my experience teaches me that we need to stay calm," he told the club's website.

"There is absolute confidence in Allegri. Naturally, all coaches are dependent on results. If a coach constantly loses then obviously that isn't good enough, but I don't think that this will be the case for us."

The visitors will at least be able to call upon a fit Mario Balotelli. The Italian international could only feature as a late substitute in the draw with Barca in Milan and he is likely to be supported by the former Real Madrid duo of Robinho and Kaka.

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ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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