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martedì 2 ottobre 2012

Preview Benfica-Barcelona, Champions League group G

Tuesday's match away from home will be more difficult because Benfica is a much better defensive team than Spartak, and if Barcelona's back four continues to play poorly, they could be in for a tough night against the Portuguese club.

Any coach who says his team can share possession equally in a match against Barcelona is a "liar", Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said on Monday ahead of the teams’ Champions League Group G match. "If a coach says they will divide the match with Barcelona they lie. I could say so myself today but then we would get there tomorrow and it would be a lie," the coach told a news conference at the Luz stadium in Lisbon.
"Barcelona always get between 60 and 70 percent of possession and we are going to have to run a lot," Jesus said.

''Barcelona are not just [Lionel] Messi. Xavi [Hernández] and [Andrés] Iniesta are the ones who give quality to their attacking game in the key areas where Messi appears to score. We have to defend properly, but with their individual skills they can make the difference. A point against the favourites would be good. Not losing in matches like this one is a good result''.

It will be a big European night, like we have had in recent seasons, so the big difference is that the opponent is Barcelona. The atmosphere will be great and we want to perform well against them, and if possible get a point.

Benfica will be a great test for the Barcelona back four because the Portuguese club is a well-rounded squad with quality players at several positions. Chelsea had some trouble with Benfica in the quarterfinals of last year's competition, and Barcelona will not have an easy time against them this season.

With star centre-backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol battling injuries, there are real problems on defense for Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova. He should have bought another defender in the summer transfer window, but chose not to.

Coach Tito Vilanova said: ''I don't think that Benfica will sit back in midfield and wait for us. It's their first home game and I don't believe that Benfica will be happy with just one point. Benfica's attack worries me, but we play our way. Sevilla also had good wingers and created danger on the counter, but the important thing here is not to lose our identity and to keep our style of game. We'll see who can play for us and then we will analyse the opposition's strengths.

It won't be easy, as we know from our two last matches here where we didn't score [Barcelona's only two previous visits produced goalless draws]. They are strong in attack and dangerous on the wings. Benfica are a big club, and because of what they have done in the past, they have earned our respect''.

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