The Barcelona captain Carles Puyol was suspended, so Oleguer Presas partnered midfielder Thiago Motta at the back, with full-backs Juliano Belletti and Van Bronckhorst tasked with handling the varied threats on the flanks, especially from Manuel Fernandes and Simão. But despite some Benfica pressure after Fabrizio Miccoli arrived in the second half, Barcelona held on comfortably and it was the home defence which had by far the most work to do.
The upside of this result means that Barcelona can start the home leg a week today knowing that any victory would do; and a win of some sort is virtually the norm at Camp Nou. Van Bronckhorst said: "A draw is good away from home. With the crowd behind us I'm sure we will create chances at home, but we will have to be very sharp to score the required goals. We will be just as determined as we were here. We're very confident at home so we're going to play the same game and we're going to create chances."
The Dutchman could yet meet his former club Arsenal FC in the final. The English contenders defeated Juventus 2-0 while Barcelona were drawing in Benfica, and Van Bronckhorst may yet experience what, for him, would be a dream final. "I am very happy for them as it looks like they might go through," he said. "They've had a bit of a tough season but over the last month they've been playing very well. Playing against them in the final would mean both teams have done very well, so let's hope we meet each other."
Before all that, though, is the small matter of this weekend's league encounter with arch-rivals Real Madrid CF. "It's a great game, one of the biggest games in club football and to be part of it is extremely enjoyable," Van Bronckhorst said. "We are doing well in both competitions, but we have a big game coming up on Saturday so we have to switch our minds off the Champions League. If we get a good result, we will be well on our way to the championship."
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