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Lyon to face Barcelona's giants for a place in the last eight

Latest update : 2009-03-11

Barcelona and Lyon have prepared their Champions League round of 16 second-leg clash at the Nou Camp as the Spanish league leaders are favourites to progress after they earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

REUTERS - Barcelona and Lyon have watched healthy leads at the top of their domestic leagues diminish in recent weeks but reacted in different ways ahead of Wednesday's Champions League last 16, second leg.

When the pair drew 1-1 in the first leg in Lyon two weeks ago, Barca were mired in a miserable run that enabled Spanish champions Real Madrid to reduce their Primera Liga advantage to just four points from 12 in early February.

The Catalans stretched the lead back to six with a 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday as Real were held at home by city rivals Atletico, but coach Pep Guardiola and his players remain under pressure.

Lyon's 2-0 defeat at Lille on Saturday chopped their lead down to one point from six two weeks ago and their woes have been compounded by injuries to key players, including France striker Karim Benzema who may not be fit for Wednesday.

Barca's Mali midfielder Seydou Keita emphasised on Monday the need for another win after their poor recent run and said Lyon would be dangerous opponents, with or without Benzema.

"Lyon have made it most difficult for us in this season's competition," he said at a news conference. "They are the best in France but if we play to our potential we will win."

Barca also have injury problems and will be missing inspirational captain Carles Puyol. The Spain defender is out for around three weeks after he hurt his left ankle in the win over Bilbao.


Benzema's sore hip has added to Lyon's worries after four games without a win in all competitions.

The striker went off at halftime during the defeat at Lille in Ligue 1 and he told reporters he would not play at the Nou Camp unless he was fully fit.

Benzema is the latest player in a long list of casualties with Lyon's depleted defence conceding an average of two goals per game in their last three outings, including a 3-2 defeat to Lille in the French Cup last-16 last week.

"I have to figure out how many valid players I can rely on for Wednesday's game," coach Claude Puel said at the weekend.

His side will have to sharpen up regardless if they are to progress as no other team has scored as many goals as Barca's 19 in this season's Champions League.

The French champions have failed to beat Barca in five previous attempts, losing three but they twice come from a goal down to draw 2-2 at home in last season's group stage - a repeat at the Nou Camp would put them through on away goals.

Date created : 2009-03-11