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Kluivert primed for Panionios

UEFA Cup diarist Patrick Kluivert is back from injury and eager for action with FC Barcelona.

UEFA Cup diarist Patrick Kluivert is back from injury and eager for action with FC Barcelona. In his latest piece for uefa.com he considers his side's second-round tie against Panionios NFC.

By Patrick Kluivert

Sadly I was not involved in our 8-0 UEFA Cup victory against ŠKM Púchov earlier this month because I was injured. I picked up the injury, which affected the muscle under my knee, during our game against Valencia CF and it was obvious I was not in the right condition for the match.

Massive score
It is always disappointing to miss games but even more so as a striker when your team-mates score eight times. I don't think anyone expected it to be such a big score after we were held 1-1 in the first leg in Slovakia but it was one of those nights when the team clicked and things went our way.

Confidence boost
We had not been scoring many goals before the Púchov fixture and it is always good for confidence to get back into the groove. I did not believe we were actually playing that badly, either in Spain or the UEFA Cup, and sometimes there are just no explanations why the ball does not go into the net.

Greek opponents
The draw for the second round of the competition has matched us against Panionios of Greece. When I heard the draw, I admit I did not know much about them but since then the staff at Barcelona have been doing their research and we will go into the match well briefed about their style and tactics.

Fortuitous tie
Of course, they are what people would describe as one of the 'smaller' teams in the UEFA Cup and I think it is a good fixture for us. We do not assume we will qualify for the next round but it's clear we stand a better chance of victory against a smaller club like them than teams like Liverpool FC or SL Benfica.

Eager opponents
However, Púchov held us to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of our tie in Slovakia which shows that nothing is certain in this competition. Smaller teams play above themselves in such games and unless we are focused it will not be easy. They have nothing to lose and with that attitude, anything can happen.

Home leg
A big difference in the second round is that the first leg will be at Camp Nou. Against Púchov we had the reassurance of knowing they had to come to Spain for the second leg and we took full advantage of this to make up for some of the mistakes we made in the first game. The situation this time is reversed and we know a trip to Greece is never going to be comfortable.

Improving form
The good news, however, is our domestic form has improved a lot since the two Púchov matches and although we feel we can still raise our performances, we are heading in the right direction. The defeat by RC Deportivo La Coruña at Camp Nou was a disappointment but since then we are unbeaten in the Primera División and moving up the table.

Fighting back
I have been on the bench for recent matches and although this is not ideal, I will fight for my place. No one has the right to expect to play every game at a club like this and although it is not something I have experienced often in my career, I will continue to work hard to win back my place.