The FC Barcelona receives Benfica this Tuesday in the fifth game of the group stage of the Champions League, in a ‘final’ that comes soon in which Barça is played, in the second game under Xavi, the pass to the Round of 16 or stay very close to elimination in the maximum continental competition and they will do it against a Benfica who thrashed them in the first round.
Much at stake in the Camp Nou, something as valuable as a future ticket to the round of 16. Bayern Munich is classified and will be the leader except for a surprise, so Barça and Benfica seem destined to fight for that second place and the meeting at the Camp Nou smells like ‘the end’.
Will not be Champions at stake nor will it be the month of May, no. It’s November and being the favorite to tie the pass is up for grabs. And in that ‘final’ so atypical, which comes to Xavi Hernández in his second game as a Blaugrana coach after debuting with a victory in the derby against Espanyol (1-0), the ‘culer’ team starts with some advantage.
“The scenario is easy; win one of the two games”, Xavi propped up in the previous one. And they want this first ‘match ball’ to be the good one and to achieve a victory that would give the extra prize of knowing that they are classified and go calmly in the visit to the Bayern ‘coco’, who also won in the first round 3-0 at the blaugranas.
That 3-0 result is a shadow that can appear for Barcelona, because at the Estádio da Luz only Benfica was right and only the Portuguese players shone. Bayern and Benfica achieved the same result and Barça faces their first opportunity for revenge and, if made effective, looking for the second would be something more emotional than anything else.
Barça will have to improve in a direct pulse that comes almost without time to make changes and with a team still very aware of the infirmary. But, in sports, a Barça is expected to come out to bite, to press up after loss, to open the field and defend itself with the ball. That is the Barça that Xavi wants to see and, with the optimism that characterizes him, Terrassa’s only contemplates winning.
With Ousmane Dembélé and Sergiño Dest Going out to train with the group, they could be two novelties in the squad list. On the contrary, neither Ilias nor Abde, the two extremes of the subsidiary that played against Espanyol, may now be due to sanction and non-registration, respectively. But, what has been said, Xavi looks a lot at the injured and injured because, without them, he has little to choose from.
In front, Jorge Jesus’ Benfica will try to get out of the Camp Nou, where a defeat would leave them in the fight for the Europa League, a draw would make them depend on Bayern and, the victory, would put them second and depend on themselves in the duel against Dinamo Kiev, bottom.
Those from Lisbon, on their last visit to Barcelona in 2013, drew a goalless draw that would now leave both of them in a stalemate, although a draw always gives Barça more numbers since it would make them follow second.
But it is a ‘final’ and, as such, it must be won. Xavi, who points out that u will liveno of the key games of what is left of the seasona, is optimistic and has managed, it seems, that his players, as Jordi Alba assured, are going to answer for him and empty himself so that his new coach is proud of his work. The pass is in play.
FC BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Piqué, Eric García, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Nico, De Jong; Gavi, Memphis and Coutinho.
SL BENEFITS: Vlachodimos; Morato, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Lázaro, Weigl, João Mário, Grimaldo; Rafa, Yaremchuk and Darwin.
Referee: Sergei Karasev (RUS).
Stadium: Camp Nou.
Hour: 21.00 / Movistar Champions League.