Barca look to end scoring drought against Benfica
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Barca look to end scoring drought against Benfica

Barcelona are confident they can recover from a recent barren spell up front and see off Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 12:54 IST

Barcelona are confident they can recover from a recent barren spell up front and see off Benfica in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final at the Nou Camp.

Barca, who drew 0-0 in last week's first leg in Lisbon, have only found the net once in their last three outings -- and that was a penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.

"We only scored one goal in the games against Real and Benfica, but the important thing is that we are creating plenty of chances," said Dutch defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"We aren't worried and nor are (Samuel) Eto'o and (Henrik) Larsson. We will have the chance to change our run of bad luck on Wednesday. Our dream is to win the Champions League and if we are to do that we have to beat Benfica."

Coach Frank Rijkaard said the problems up front could work to their advantage against the Portuguese side.

"If we'd scored lots of goals on Saturday, it might have been harder to score against Benfica," he told Spanish state radio. "As it is, the team now has even more desire to beat Benfica."

Argentina forward Lionel Messi returned to training on Monday after a month out with a thigh strain, but is not yet ready to play, while Eto'o is receiving treatment to a bruised leg, although the Cameroon international will start on Wednesday.

Rijkaard's attention is also likely to be focused on his injury-hit defence.

Mexican centre back Rafael Marquez, versatile Brazilian international Edmilson and left back Silvinho are all out injured, while midfielder Thiago Motta, who can also play at the back, suffered a minor thigh strain against Real.

Captain Carles Puyol received a blow on the head in Saturday's match, but was back in training on Monday and is likely to be partnered by Oleguer in central defence.


Like Rijkaard, Benfica coach Ronald Koeman also has major injury worries after striker Nuno Gomes damaged his left knee in Saturday's 2-1 win over Belenenses, a result that kept the Portuguese champions third in the table, seven points behind leaders Porto.

Gomes, the top scorer in the Portuguese league, will miss the match and is likely to be sidelined for three weeks. Brazilian defenders Alcides and Nelson are also injured.

Koeman is expected to stick to the same tactic used last week of defending in depth and relying on counter-attacks from Italian winger Fabrizio Miccoli and former Barcelona midfielder Geovanni.

"We have strikers who can score in Barcelona," Miccoli said. "It's tough, but we have a chance of reaching the semi-finals."

Koeman, who scored Barca's winner in their 1992 European Cup final victory over Sampdoria, said: "Anything is possible in football, everything is open. We're going to fight until the last minute -- just like we did in the first game."

Probable teams:

Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 2-Juliano Belletti, 23-Oleguer, 5-Carles Puyol, 12-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 17-Mark van Bommel, 24-Andres Iniesta, 20-Deco; 10-Ronaldinho, 7-Henrik Larsson, 9-Samuel Eto'o

Benfica: 31-Marcelo Moretto; 33-Ricardo Rocha, 4-Luisao, 3-Anderson, 5-Leo; 16-Beto, 6-Petit, 14-Manuel Fernandes; 20-Simao Sabrosa, 11-Geovanni, 30-Fabrizio Miccoli

Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)

First Published: Apr 04, 2006 12:54 IST