Barcelona aim to break English domination

Barcelona bid to break English football's recent domination of the Champions League by beating Chelsea on Wednesday.

updated: May 05, 2009 11:39 IST
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Barcelona bid to break English football's recent domination of the Champions League by beating Chelsea on Wednesday and preventing another Premier League showdown in the final.

Pep Guardiola's team goes to Stamford Bridge with the two teams level from last week's 0-0 semifinal draw at Camp Nou. Barca hope that Saturday's spectacular 6-2 victory at traditional rival Real Madrid has given the team the momentum to beat Chelsea and reach the May 27 final in Rome.

The draw last Tuesday gave Guus Hiddink's team a slight edge going into the home leg. Chelsea hope to finish the job and get to the final for the second season in a row.

The Blues lost a penalty shootout to Manchester United after a 1-1 draw in last season's final in Moscow, and the pain from that near miss still hurts.

"We are all determined now to get to Rome and win the trophy because we have come close before," French winger Florent Malouda. "This now means that our desire is even stronger than it has ever been."

Chelsea have never won European football's biggest club prize, while Barcelona is chasing their third title to go with the ones they won in 1992 and 2006. In his first season in charge of Barca, coach and former midfielder Guardiola also have opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the Spanish league after their demolition of Madrid on Saturday.

Defender Gerard Pique said the players won't be complacent after the victory in Madrid.

"The victory against Madrid is already history and will be remembered much better if we are able to reach the final in Rome," he said. "What's coming up is very important and we have to have our heads focused on that. It's true that we have been playing at a very high level this season, but we still haven't won anything."

Chelsea have to at least repeat their performance from last week and keep Barcelona's top quality strikeforce at bay. The Blues warmed up with a 3-1 victory over Fulham on Saturday.

"The best way to prepare for Barcelona was to win at home because that is what we have to do Wednesday," Malouda said. "We had to show we can perform well at home and it is good for the confidence when you can score three goals.

"The negative was that, after we opened the scoring, we conceded a goal quickly and this is the kind of thing you can't afford against Barcelona."

If Chelsea do the same on Wednesday, scoring and then conceding, that will give Barcelona the edge because no further scoring would put the Spanish team through on away goals.

Guardiola has a series of injury and suspension problems, however.

Thierry Henry, whose partnership with Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o has produced a combined 69 of Barca's 100 league goals, is nursing a right knee injury.

Centerbacks Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito are also missing with knee problems while Carles Puyol is suspended.