24 Hours to Benfica – Coach Xavi’s First Big Test

Barcelona won the Catalan derby with a resounding victory. The historic duel drew over 70,000 spectators.
Barcelona will face Benfica in the UEFA Champions League 5th round at the Camp Nou after a solid performance against Espanyol in the Catalan derby. “It’s a win that the players both deserved and required,” Xavi’s stated in his post-match press conference:

“Our spirits have been lifted by today’s victory, but we must now concentrate on Tuesday’s Champions League match, which will be incredibly difficult. It’s time for another final, and we’re not going to fail. On Tuesday, there will be another duel and another final.” He remarked.

The Catalan giant was trounced in the first leg of the competition in Portugal, where the Portuguese side beat Barcelona 3 goals to zero at the Estadio da Luz.

Jorge Jesus’ team scored with their first shot on target in the first three minutes of the game, and then added two more goals in the second half. Ronald Koeman, a former Blaugrana manager, was in charge of the team against the Portuguese, and the Blaugrana lost heavily. Eric Garcia was sent off three minutes before the game’s end. He received a yellow card for a challenge on Rafa in the 54th minute of the game. He drew his second yellow card for pulling down Ramos in the 87th minute of the game.

‘Make or Break’ Match

Barcelona has a goal difference of -4 after four matches in the UEFA Champions League group stage, with two victories and two losses. With six points, the Catalan giant is presently in second place, while Bayern Munich top the table with 12 points. Benfica has won two of its last three games, while the Blaugrana has won two of its last three.

The Blaugrana’s most recent UEFA Champions League match came against Dynamo Kyiv, which they won 1-0 thanks to an Ansu Fati goal to keep them in the competition. The medical staff of the Catalan giant has cleared Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, Nico Gonzalez, and Sergi Roberto. Three of them played in the match versus the Catalans. Medical clearance for Pedri and Ousmane Dembele to play the Portuguese is also a possibility. To qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage, the Blaugrana must win.

On Tuesday, Xavi’s Barcelona will face Benfica in a must-win match, with only Memphis, Luuk, and Demir as natural strikers. After receiving a red card in the UEFA Youth League, Ilias Akhomach will miss the game against Benfica. Abde and Jutglà are also unavailable owing to a lack of UEFA Champions League registration. Young players like Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, and Eric Garcia may be able to maintain their starting positions. In the Catalan derby, they performed admirably.

Barcelona cannot afford to lose against Benfica; if they do not win, they may not qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout round, but a win will guarantee them a place in the round of 16 of the competition.

Cules is anticipating a solid performance against the Portuguese.



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