Barcelona hunt goals in bid to kill off Lyon

BARCELONA head coach Pep Guardiola faces the biggest test of his first season at the helm when the Spanish champions welcome their French champions Lyon to Camp Nou for the return leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter.

Barca hold a slender advantage after scoring an away goal in a first leg in France that ended 1-1. However, with Lyon talisman Karim Benzema expected to shake off a nagging hip injury in time to play, progression for the La Liga leaders is by no means a formality.

"I have a few problems but, yes, I think I can play," Benzema said. "I don't want to lose this match for anything in the world."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Guardiola's first season in charge has been close to perfect, with the Catalan giants picking up a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend to end a winless run and stretch their advantage over nearest challengers Real Madrid, who were held at home by local rivals Atletico.

Barcelona are already through to the Copa del Rey final and must overcome a winless run against French clubs in two-legged meetings to keep its European hopes and treble bid alive.

"The best way to get through this tie is to go out looking to score," said Guardiola. "I can't think of any better way. We'll go out to win."

Guardiola will be without captain Carles Puyol after the Spain defender was sidelined for three weeks when he injured his left ankle against Bilbao on Saturday. Midfielder Andres Iniesta has played well since his return from injury, while Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry are expected to play. The trio have contributed 55 of Barca's 76 league goals this season.

Barcelona trounced Lyon 3-0 in a group stage match at the Nou Camp last season, although neither team is giving much credence to that result after the French club's strong performance at the Stade de Gerland.

"Barcelona taught us a lesson and I hope it serves to keep us sharp from the opening minute," Benzema said. "(But] I'm conscious that it will be very difficult to qualify."

In the first leg, Juninho scored a first-half free kick before Henry equalised after 69 minutes as Barca controlled most of the second half.

Lyon, trying to reach the last eight for the first time in three years, have John Mensah missing, while former Rangers defender Jean-Alain Boumsong is a doubt. Barca defender Eric Abidal missesout with a muscle tear in his right leg.