Barca set off for Italy under cloud

Volcanic ash disrupts travel plans for Inter tie after champs suffer draw at Espanyol.

    Mourinho has been given a boost ahead of Barca's visit to the San Siro [AFP]

    Barcelona may have to travel to Italy by bus for their European Champions League semi-final first leg against Inter Milan due to the volcanic ash cloud choking European flights.

    Having ceded ground in the Spanish title race in a goalless draw with Espanyol on Saturday, the domestic and European Champions will depart for Italy on Sunday instead of a day later.

    If it is not possible to fly into Milan they will attempt to fly to somewhere nearby in Italy.

    But if all the airports are closed their last alternative is to travel by bus as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland continues to erupt.

    Espanyol's battling at home to the Primera Division leaders will have made interesting watching for Inter coach Jose Mourinho.

    Inter back on top

    The Portuguese was able to witness a rare sight as Barca found themselves harried by their city rivals, a day after Inter had retaken the Italian Serie A lead thanks to a spectacular Maicon volley in a 2-0 win over Juventus.

    Spain fixtures

    Sunday April 18

     Tenerife v Getafe
     Deportivo v Almeria
     Malaga v Valladolid
     Xerez v Santander
     Athl Bilbao v Zaragoza
     Real Madrid v Valencia

    Barca lost defender Daniel Alves to a red card after 62 minutes and Espanyol, who hit the woodwork in the first half, were perhaps unlucky not to come away with more from a game in which Barca were uncharacteristically defensive in outlook.

    The champions moved on to 84 points from 33 games, but chasing Real Madrid could close to within one point if they can beat third-placed Valencia at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

    Espanyol's fans gave Barca a typically hostile reception, with a banner in the stands reading: "You aren't a rival, you are the enemy."

    Lucky Barca

    Barca did not have one decent shot on target and were lucky to go in at the break level after a quick Espanyol counter-attack ended with Pablo Osvaldo's effort being pushed on to a post by Victor Valdes.

    Italy fixtures

    Sunday April 18

     Atalanta v Fiorentina
     Bari v Napoli
     Cagliari v Palermo
     Catania v Siena
     Parma v Genoa
     Sampdoria v AC Milan
     Udinese v Bologna
     Lazio v Roma

    Matters got worse for coach Pep Guardiola when Alves picked up his second yellow card but he still opted for attack throwing on Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to join Lionel Messi in the second half.

    Earlier, Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano were on target to help Sevilla beat Sporting Gijon 3-0 at home, moving them up to fourth with 54 points.

    In the late game, Europa League semi-finalists Atletico Madrid, set to host Liverpool next week, suffered their third successive defeat, going down 2-1 at Villarreal.

    Back in Italy, Chievo beat last-placed Livorno 2-0 to move further from relegation.

    Roma can regain top spot on Sunday if they beat Lazio in the Rome derby.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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