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Jesus full of hope for Benfica's Camp Nou test

Published: Tuesday 4 December 2012, 19.38CET
Jorge Jesus is optimistic SL Benfica "can surprise Barcelona" at the Camp Nou – where the hosts are unbeaten in 18 European games – and claim the last qualifying spot in Group G.
by Lucy Turner
from Barcelona
Jesus full of hope for Benfica's Camp Nou test
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is without four 'important players' for the match ©AFP/Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BarcelonaBenfica

Goals scored18
 
5
on target102
 
55
off target74
 
56
Corners74
 
53
Offsides26
 
8
Fouls committed110
 
95
Yellow cards25
 
16
Red Cards1
 
0
 
Published: Tuesday 4 December 2012, 19.38CET

Jesus full of hope for Benfica's Camp Nou test

Jorge Jesus is optimistic SL Benfica "can surprise Barcelona" at the Camp Nou – where the hosts are unbeaten in 18 European games – and claim the last qualifying spot in Group G.

Though his midfield resources are depleted, SL Benfica coach Jorge Jesus believes the Eagles can "surprise" FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou and qualify from UEFA Champions League Group G alongside the Catalan club. However, Jesus is demanding an improved performance from the matchday two meeting between the teams – a 2-0 defeat – for a game in which the hosts will rest several of their big names.

Barcelona are through as group winners.

Benfica have head-to-head superiority over Celtic FC so will progress with a win, or as long as they pick up as many points as the Scottish champions do at home to FC Spartak Moskva.

Barcelona
Tito Vilanova, coach
I have seen a very good training session today, as if we were playing an important match, and that is good because all our games are important. This is the Champions League and Benfica have a lot at stake.

I haven't had to motivate the players because they're professionals and it's part of their job. It's a home game in the Champions League and we have players who are freshly returned from injuries. They will profit from playing, along with players from the B team who can prove themselves against Benfica.

Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year isn't an objective – we have to take it in our stride. We all know Lionel Messi is about to reach that record, but it's just part of his game. Leo will probably set a new record, but the important thing is the match, not other things. Messi is the same as usual – he's in good form, eager to play. He isn't any different at all. He's used to playing under the pressure of being close to a record.

Weekend result
Saturday: Barcelona 5-1 Athletic Club (Piqué 22, Messi 25 70, Adriano 45+1, Fàbregas 57; Gómez 65
Valdés; Adriano (Montoya 74), Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets (Song 75), Fàbregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta (Alcántara 74).

• Lionel Messi took his tally to 84 goals for club and country in 2012, one shy of Müller's all-time record for a calendar year set in 1972. It helped Barcelona to their 13th win in 14 Liga games (the other was a draw), eclipsing Real Madrid CF's 1991/92 record for the best-ever start to a Spanish top-flight campaign.

Team news
Daniel Alves (hamstring) and Alexis Sánchez (ankle) have been out with injuries.

Benfica
Jorge Jesus, coach
We have worked [on things] thinking we wouldn't have Carlos Martins or Enzo Peréz. We have worked on various alternatives. We know our midfield is weaker than normal, but we will decide who to field, be it André Gomes or André Almeida. Predictions for Celtic v Spartak are no use – I don't want my players to think about that. If we have good news at the end of the match, then all the better.

We have to improve our performance compared with the match against Barcelona in Lisbon. Tomorrow we need the same strategy we used in the first half. We can't make the same mistakes twice, for example not putting pressure on Barcelona.

We believe in what we do, we believe we are brave and we believe we are facing the best team in the world, along with Real Madrid. We believe we will be lucky for this match and we believe we can surprise Barcelona. 

Weekend result
Benfica were not in action as their Portuguese Cup round of 16 opponents had not yet been determined. They won 2-0 at home to SC Olhanense on 24 November thanks to an Óscar Cardozo penalty, his seventh Liga goal this term, and Luisão's first of the season.

Team news
Pablo Aimar has been absent since 2 October because of a thigh injury. Carlos Martins, Enzo Peréz and Eduardo Salvio are also sidelined.

Match fact
• Barcelona are unbeaten in 18 European home outings, winning 15, since a 2-1 reverse against FC Rubin Kazan on 20 October 2009.

Last updated: 22/10/13 9.22CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000347/match=2009572/prematch/preview/index.html#jesus+buoyant+test

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