Champions League

Tough time for Barca

2009-04-27 11:25
Thierry Henry (File)
Madrid - It's the moment of truth for Barcelona and their treble tilt as they face Chelsea in the Champions League first leg semi-final on Tuesday and then a potential title decider at Real Madrid four days later.

Barcelona drew 2-2 at Valencia on Saturday and saw Real close to within four points at the top with a 4-2 win over Sevilla to set up an intriguing 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu next Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side will have that on the brain but must put it on the back burner for now as they go in search of European glory taking on Chelsea at Camp Nou in the first leg of a testing Champions League semi-final.

"It was a tough game against Valencia and now we are ready for another big battle against Chelsea," said Andres Iniesta.

"There are some difficult games left but that's the way we'll get to the end. We're not giving up on anything because we're in a privileged situation.

"As the coach says, we've still got the most incredible part of the season to come and we have to fight."

On the domestic front Barcelona have seen a 12-point lead cut to four and they face Real at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

"No-one has said that you don't have to suffer to win this league," explained Iniesta. "We'll be going to Bernabeu to win, as we always do."

Coach Guardiola was used to fighting for titles as a player but this is his first experience as a manager in his maiden season in charge.

"I have no complaints about the display against Valencia and am proud of my team," said Guardiola. "We finished the game like lions.

"A point is a point and there are fewer games left now. We were focussed on Valencia and now we have to do the same for Chelsea.

"We are in the Champions League semi-finals and we have the opportunity to fight for the crown."

Chelsea will have watched the Valencia draw and taken heart from the defensive mix-up for Valencia's equaliser when captain Carles Puyol and goalkeeper Victor Valdes failed to clear a corner.

"We're leaving with a draw because of those five crazy minutes which shouldn't have existed," fumed Puyol.

Valdes and Barcelona had kept seven clean sheets prior to the Valencia game and will hope for another on Tuesday well aware of Chelsea's firepower having seen them win 3-1 against Liverpool at Anfield in the previous round.

Thierry Henry, who scored an 86th minute equaliser for Barcelona, paid tribute to the spirit in the team after fighting back from 2-1 down at the Mestalla Stadium.

"Getting a point is better than losing isn't it?" said Henry. "This Barcelona team has the quality and also the courage that you need to succeed."



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