Although both FC Barcelona, inspired by Ronaldinho, and Chelsea FC recorded league wins on Saturday neither side was able to show their best form.
Despite victories for FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC in their most recent domestic engagements, both coaches have things to ponder ahead of their teams' meeting at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
FC Barcelona 3-2 RC Deportivo La Coruña
Ronaldinho's brilliant free-kick after just two minutes gave the home side the lead, but Frank Rijkaard's team paid dearly for losing concentration as defensive lapses allowed Deportivo to turn the match on its head and lead 2-1. Swedish striker Henrik Larsson quickly headed in a Ronaldinho corner to equalise, however, and after the break yet another Ronaldinho set-piece led to Barça's third goal as Samuel Eto'o converted his corner. Rijkaard decided to rest Lionel Messi after the teenager played the full 90 minutes for Argentina during the week. Gabri García was also missing from the squad having pulled his right calf muscle while Xavi Hernández is still recovering from a knee ligament injury, although Ronaldinho had fully recovered from the ankle problem which prevented him from playing for Brazil in the week.
Rijkaard said: "It was a curious match because all the goals came from set-pieces. I congratulate the players because the second half was much better and we deserved to win. It's an important victory but we do have to pay attention to a few things." The previous week Rijkaard's team had settled a score with Real Zaragoza, the team that eliminated them from the Copa del Rey, with a 2-0 victory that consolidated their position at the top of the table.
West Bromwich Albion FC 1-2 Chelsea FC
The English champions warmed up for their visit to the Camp Nou with an away victory against West Brom on Saturday. Second-half goals from Didier Drogba and Joe Cole set Chelsea on their way despite the loss of Arjen Robben to a red card, with Nwankwo Kanu's late goal insufficient to deny the visitors three points. The victory, in José Mourinho's 100th game in charge, was preceded by a minute's silence for former Chelsea striker Peter Osgood who died on 1 March. Defender John Terry admitted his side had ground out the result, saying: "We got a bit of a telling-off at half-time, it was what we needed."
The win was Chelsea's second since the first leg against Barcelona following a 2-0 home victory against Portsmouth FC on 25 February. Since then a number of Chelsea players have been in international action, with Cole creating one and scoring another for England in their win against Uruguay and Damien Duff on target for the Republic of Ireland. English international Frank Lampard, who sat out the trip to West Brom with a hamstring injury, has declared his fitness while French defender William Gallas returned to the lineup on Saturday and is likely to play at left-back in Barcelona as Asier Del Horno is suspended.