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Tito Vilanova/ PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Tito Vilanova will lead his men for the first time in a Champions League match away from the Camp Nou, and he’ll do it in a stadium where Barça hasn’t won or scored in its last two visits.

The last two Benfica-FC Barcelona’s ended in goalless draws. The first was in 1991, in the European Cup, and the second was in 2006 edition of the Champions League. The manager said that his players “like challenges,” and that he “hopes that tomorrow things will work out.”

“Benfica are a big team”

The Azulgrana manager considers that his team's rival on Tuesday is “a big team,” and that’s why he doesn’t believe that the Portuguese side will settle for a draw: “I don’t want to believe that they’ll close themselves off at the back, they are very dangerous up front and they’re very good on the wings, in addition to the fact that they’re playing at home. In a mini-league of six teams there is very little margin for error. We all know how important the second game of the group stage is.”

Keeping tabs on Iniesta, Puyol, and Adriano

Even though Iniesta, Puyol and Adriano were included in the team for the match against the Portuguese side on Tuesday, Vilanova said that this evening’s training session will serve to see if the players are match fit: “The physios will see how all three are doing, and then the decision will be made on whether any of them can play from the start.”

The manager also lamented Thiago’s injury: “It was the worst bit of news from the Sevilla match, for the team and for him. He was so happy to be back. The fact that we lose players is always a problem. Thiago is a player that gives you things that others in the same position can’t give you. Hopefully we can make a speedy recovery.”

Totally focused on the Champions League

Despite the looming showdown at the Camp Nou against Real Madrid on Sunday, Vilanova was very clear that his team is completely focused on the match against Benfica: “The most important game is the one we have tomorrow. There will be time to think about what comes after that.” In addition, the manager rubbished the claim that this is a vital week for his team: “It’s clear that this is an important week but October just started. I don’t think any titles will be any closer if we win our two games this week. These games are important because of who we’re going to play against, but titles are decided later on, as long as you don’t do a terrible job now.”


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