Carles Puyol warned his FC Barcelona team-mates to expect a backlash on Wednesday when they host an FC Bayern München team licking their wounds following a damaging 5-1 weekend defeat away by VfL Wolfsburg.
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Carles Puyol warned his FC Barcelona team-mates to expect a backlash on Wednesday when they host an FC Bayern München side licking their wounds following a painful 5-1 defeat at VfL Wolfsburg, especially with Luca Toni and Franck Ribéry in their ranks.
The Barça captain was already on red alert for a monumental tussle in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, especially after Jürgen Klinsmann's team's 12-1 dismantling of Sporting Clube de Portugal to set up the meeting. The German side were on the other end of a one-sided scoreline at the weekend, going down against new Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg, yet Puyol believes they will simply be stung into a powerful reaction. "I have no doubts that Bayern will be much more dangerous having suffered such a damaging defeat on Saturday," said the 30-year-old. "The only positive thing that can be said about our chances after an opponent like Bayern concedes five is that it's a warning for us to be even more on our guard as this will have a huge impact on their motivation."
Puyol is not alone in identifying Toni and Ribéry as the most obvious dangers in Klinsmann's side, but he has happy memories of his last meeting with the Italian international after keeping the striker under wraps in Spain's UEFA EURO 2008™ quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over the Azzurri following a goalless draw. "Both Toni and Ribéry are problematic opponents," he said. "They pose a danger in different areas. Toni's zone is the box; he's physically very strong and his best quality is that he fights really hard to get on the end of anything his team-mates send his way. Ribéry is the kind of guy who can win a game on his own: he's agile, skilful and really quick. As soon as he's got the ball at his feet he loves to run at defenders. I'll enjoy the test."
The Camp Nou has traditionally been a fortress for Barça in Europe's premier club competition, even if Josep Guardiola's high-scoring side are yet to keep a clean sheet at home in this season's UEFA Champions League. However, there are positive omens for Bayern, who won both their previous competitive matches against the Catalan club here – not that Puyol is overly concerned. "I don't see how them winning twice here will have any impact on the match," he said. "It's a historic detail which previous Barça teams suffered. We've got respect for Bayern as dangerous rivals but also confidence that we can win. Whatever the scoreline our aim is to get goals and not concede, and take even more confidence to Munich for the second leg."