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Barca wary of wounded Chelsea
Simon Baskett | March 06, 2006 16:14 IST
Barcelona know that they cannot afford to drop their guard when they face a wounded Chelsea in the second leg of their heavyweight Champions League clash at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
The Catalans claimed a narrow 2-1 victory in the first game at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but with last year's aggregate defeat still etched into their memories they know they have yet to deliver the knockout blow to their opponents.
"There is no danger of us relaxing or taking anything for granted against Chelsea," Barca fullback Silvinho told the Onda Cero radio station after his side's 3-2 win over Deportivo Coruna on Saturday.
"They are the sort of side that never gives up and if we are not focused we will let them back into the tie. We have to play an intelligent game and use our home advantage to full effect."
Barca showed the class and determination they will need to take them through against Chelsea in the Depor match, but they made several worrying errors in defence that will give the Londoners hope of staging a comeback.
Ronaldinho, who has shaken off a minor ankle injury, opened the scoring with a sublime free kick in the third minute, but Depor hit back to take a 2-1 lead after some poor defending from the Barca back four from set pieces.
The good news for coach Frank Rijkaard was that his side recovered their concentration and goals from strikers Henrik Larsson and Samuel Eto'o secured a win that kept the Catalans on course to retain their league title.
"We didn't play as we wanted to in the first half, but the attitude was good," said the Dutchman. "There were a few details that will serve as a warning to us too as we all know we have a very important match coming up on Tuesday."
Rijkaard rested Argentine teenage sensation Lionel Messi, midfielder Thiago Motta and left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst against Depor, all of whom are likely to feature in the starting line-up for the Chelsea match.
With the Catalans having won all four previous home games against Chelsea and the Londoners having lost on their last four visits to Spain, the statistics are strongly in favour of Barca.
The last side to score twice at the Nou Camp in Europe was Juventus when they beat Barca 2-1 in the Champions League quarter-finals three years ago.
Chelsea's main concern focuses on midfield stalwart Frank Lampard who missed their 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday with a hamstring injury.
The 27-year-old, runner-up to Ronaldinho in both the World and European footballer of the year awards, is Chelsea's top scorer with 16 goals in all competitions, but is a fast healer and travelled with the squad on Sunday.
Chelsea will be missing fullback Asier del Horno, sent off for a foul on Messi in the first leg, which prompted Mourinho to accuse the Argentine of theatrics and midfielder Michael Essien, who is also suspended.
In-form winger Joe Cole is likely to start after a man-of-the-match performance for England against Uruguay in midweek.
Cole, who made the first and scored the second goal in England's 2-1 win and also found the net against West Brom, is convinced Chelsea can pull off an unlikely win at the Nou Camp. "We've got the squad to do it. If anyone can we can," he said.
In a tie that has once again been characterised by the same sort of mind games that spiked last year's clash, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for fair play in the return leg.
But Jose Mourinho looked in no mood for conciliation on Saturday, clapping sarcastically when Arjen Robben was sent off, clashing with West Brom manager Bryan Robson and cursing in English and Portuguese. He did not shake hands with Robson after the game.
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 2-Juliano Belletti or 23-Oleguer; 5-Carles Puyol, 4-Rafa Marquez, 12-Giovanni van Bronckhorst or 16-Silvinho; 20-Deco, 15-Edmilson, 3-Thiago Motta; 10-Ronaldinho, 30-Lionel Messi, 9-Samuel Eto'o
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 20-Paulo Ferreira, 6-Ricardo Carvalho, 26-John Terry, 13-William Gallas; 4-Claude Makelele, 8-Frank Lampard, 22-Eidur Gudjohnsen; 10-Joe Cole, 9-Hernan Crespo (or 15-Didier Drogba) 16-Arjen Robben (or 11-Damien Duff)
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)
(Additional reporting by Clare Lovell).
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage