Barcelona missing key players while Nicosia bid to make history
Wednesday 07 March 2012
Barcelona will be without Alexis Sanchez and Carles Puyol as they look to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals tonight against Bayer Leverkusen.
Both the Chilean winger and the Spanish captain are out with groin injuries. This is the first year under Pep Guardiola that they take a lead into the last-16 second leg, having won 3-1 in Germany.
Guardiola said: "We have always played the return leg with a draw or a defeat in the first game. But the job is not done against Bayer. We controlled the first leg in the first half but they were very strong in the second half, and very fast."
Leverkusen have won a season-best three league matches in a row, including a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich, since losing to Barcelona. But they haven't won away from home in Europe in almost a decade.
Liverpool beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp at this stage in 2007 after a 1-0 loss at Anfield, but the Spanish champions have won all three last-16 matches under Guardiola, beating Bayern Munich, Stuttgart and Arsenal by a combined 11-1.
"If we play like we did in the first half of the first leg we won't be happy but if we play as we did in the second half, in which we pressured a lot more, Barca will be stretched," Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said.
"We have to defend well, fight, look to score and take advantage of our opportunities."
Apoel Nicosia will again try to defy expectations and overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lyons in their second leg to continue their historic Champions League run.
Apoel have already become the first Cypriot team to reach the last 16 and will rely on home advantage. The team has only lost once in 10 European matches at Nicosia's GSP stadium, and earned group-stage wins over Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto.
"Ninety minutes away from eternity," Cypriot sports daily Goal News said on its front page yesterday. The small club is still considered the underdog against Lyons, but Apoel's players know an upset will make history for the club.
"Everybody's expecting this moment, the most important in the life I believe of this club and a very important day for us as players, as a team," Apoel's Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Manduca said.
"We must score, we must win. We'll take the risk and try to do our best to continue in this competition."
Latest in Sport
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
Floyd Mayweather beats Manny Pacquiao by a unanimous points decision - but Pacquiao thinks he should have won, saying 'he did nothing'
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils