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Delgado ready to seize his chance

While much of the pre-match talk has focused on FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Olympique Lyonnais fans will be counting on their own diminutive Argentinian forward talent, César Delgado, to finally take centre stage.

Lyon forward César Delgado
Lyon forward César Delgado ©Getty Images

While much of the pre-match talk has focused on FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Olympique Lyonnais fans will be counting on another diminutive Argentinian forward to take centre stage at Stade de Gerland on Tuesday.

Frustrating start
It has taken César Delgado a long time to adapt to life in France, but the skilful attacker is finally making his mark under Claude Puel this season and could pose a considerable threat to Josep Guardiola's side. Much was expected of the 27-year-old when he arrived in a €7.25m move from Mexican club CD Cruz Azul in January last year, yet he started just two matches under former coach Alain Perrin last term and was widely tipped to leave in the summer.

'I'll be ready'
Puel's decision to persevere with Delgado has been vindicated by a string of excellent displays in recent weeks, and the former CA Rosario Central schemer is in line to face the Catalan giants. "I arrived more than a year ago and I've taken a long time to show people what I can do," said Delgado, who scored 54 goals in 129 games in Mexico's top flight. "Luckily the coach is counting on me more and more and I'll be ready if he decides to pick me against Barcelona. It's a really big match. I'll do everything I can to get us into the next round."

'Wonderful player'
This season Delgado has been at his most effective playing in a central role behind Karim Benzema, although – like Messi – he could be asked to occupy the right flank in Tuesday's first leg. Despite possessing the same nationality and operating in a similar position to the Barça prodigy, the Lyon man is not seeking comparisons. "My aim isn't to bring the same things that Messi brings to Barcelona," he explained. "Messi's a wonderful player who is getting better all the time and who shows his class in every game. I just concentrate on my game. I work hard and try to bring energy to the team when I can."

Delgado belief
After spending so long in the shadows, it is little wonder Delgado – capped 20 times by Argentina – has his feet firmly on the ground. He knows exactly how difficult it will be to reach the quarter-finals but insists the runaway Ligue 1 leaders have a good chance. "Barcelona are the favourites, of course," he said. "They're always the favourites because they're an excellent team. Now we've got an opportunity to show people that Lyon are also an excellent team. We're playing well and we know that over two games anything can happen. The most important thing is that we believe in our chances."