Barca looking for revenge against Chelsea
The Spanish giants get a chance to atone for their early exit from Europe last season on Wednesday when the Champions League resumes after a 2 1/2-month break.Updated: Feb 20, 2006 17:48 IST
Barcelona have unfinished business against Chelsea. The Spanish giants get a chance to atone for their early exit from Europe last season on Wednesday when the Champions League resumes after a 2 1/2-month break.
This time, everyone will be under scrutiny.
Controversy surrounded both legs of last year's match, which Chelsea won 5-4 on aggregate to reach the quarterfinals. Chelsea reached the semifinals, but lost to eventual winners Liverpool.
"It will be harder because they're going to want revenge, they need revenge," Chelsea defender William Gallas said. "When a team is hurt, they want to show their fans, and the whole world, that what happened last year was an error."
Both sides went on to win their respective leagues last year and are in position to repeat.
This time, Chelsea hosts the first leg. Last season, Barcelona had a 2-1 home-leg advantage then rallied from 3-0 down only to lose 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.
"I think it will be even harder this year. We're going to have to be really, really focused the whole 90 minutes of each game," Gallas said.
"It could turn on the slightest incident." That includes the coaches. Last year, the behavior of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho— a former Barcelona assistant— almost overshadowed the result.
Mourinho accused Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of colluding with referee Anders Frisk at halftime of the first leg. Frisk received death threats and retired, while Mourinho, who was labeled an "enemy of football" by a UEFA official, was suspended for Chelsea's quarterfinal games against Bayern Munich.
Terje Hauge of Norway will referee the first leg, UEFA announced on Monday. During the match at Stamford Bridge, Rijkaard and some of his team argued and scuffled with Chelsea's security staff.
Only six of the 16 clubs in the knockout round haven't won the European Cup before: Chelsea, Arsenal, Lyon, Villarreal and Rangers,while Werder Bremen and Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven have won it only once.
On Tuesday, David Beckham plays against an English side for the first time since moving to Spain when Real Madrid hosts Arsenal. Defending champion Liverpool hosts Benfica, who eliminated Manchester United from the competition, while Dutch leader PSV Eindhoven hosts French front-runner Lyon, and AC Milan plays Bayern Munich.
Also on Wednesday, Werder Bremen hosts Italian league leader Juventus, struggling Scottish club Rangers play Villarreal in Glasgow and Inter Milan travel to Ajax.
Real Madrid haven't won a trophy since 2003 despite their talent-laden roster. Madridare seven points behind leaders Barcelona in the Spanish league and out of the Copa del Rey, so the Champions League could be the only chance to break the drought.
"I've been waiting for this moment for three years," Beckham said. "From the start I wanted to wear Real Madrid's shirt in England. There's a special aura about being a Real Madrid player and I want to show it in England. To play in London, where I was born, is going to be very special."
Madrid's 3-0 win over Alaves on Saturday was their sixth straight in the league and continued their improvement since the appointment of reserve team coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro to replace the fired Vanderlei Luxemburgo on December 4.
Madrid were boosted by the return of captain Raul Gonzalez on Saturday after three months with serious knee trouble. Striker Ronaldo is expected to play his first Champions League match of the season after missing all six group games because of suspension and injury.
Arsenalare struggling to qualify for Europe next season. The Gunners are out of both domestic cup competitions and are fifth in the Premier League standings, 25 points behind Chelsea.
Liverpool have momentum after beating Manchester United in the FA Cup for the first time in 85 years on Saturday. Manager Rafa Benitez says a "winning mentality" helped. The United win came after victories over Wigan and Arsenal in the league.
"We were accused of having a mini crisis recently, but we've answered that in the best possible way and when we get into a rhythm we stay in it," Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said.
Benfica have lost their form in recent weeks, slumping to their third Portuguese league defeat in four games on Saturday with a 2-0 loss at Guimaraes.
Bayernare confident for their Milan match despite needing a late goal to draw 1-1 with Hannover.
"My team showed it can not only play but fight," coach Felix Magath said. "My team made me happy. This performance left me optimistic for Tuesday."
Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is doubtful with a bruised thigh.
First Published: Feb 20, 2006 17:48 IST