Misfiring Barcelona search for goals against Lyon

Written by:
Subscribe to Oneindia News

MADRID, Sep 18 (Reuters) Barcelona's spluttering start to the Primera Liga season has coach Frank Rijkaard scratching his head as they prepare to host Olympique Lyon in tomorrow's Champions League opener in Group E.

The 2006 winners have struggled to goalless draws away to Osasuna and Racing Santander, and were helped by a refereeing error in a 3-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao two weeks ago.

They have only scored one goal from open play, but television replays showed that Yaya Toure's shot against Bilbao came down on the line after hitting the crossbar. The other two were a penalty and free kick from Ronaldinho.

''This isn't the image that I want for Barcelona and it isn't the one we should be giving,'' Rijkaard said after Sunday's draw with Osasuna.

''We still haven't seen the Barcelona we are all used to seeing.'' Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o is out with a thigh injury, but in France striker Thierry Henry they have a proven goalscorer as a replacement. The problem is he has yet to break his duck for his new club in the league.

Argentina forward Lionel Messi was rested with a thigh strain on Sunday, but is expected to be back to join Ronaldinho and Henry in their familiar three-pronged attack.

Carles Puyol is still recovering from a knee ligament injury which means Argentina's Gabriel Milito will probably accompany France's Lilian Thuram in the centre of defence.

KEY PLAYERS Lyon, who have topped their group in the three previous years, have set their sights on more progress this season despite losing key players such as Florent Malouda, Tiago and Eric Abidal, who now plays for tomorrow's hosts.

Their attack relies heavily on France forward Karim Benzema, who scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Metz on Saturday and is Ligue 1's top scorer with eight goals in seven games.

''Barcelona are a great team with star players but we are going over there to play a great match. Any team can be beaten,'' Benzema told reporters.

''We can snatch a good result but, above all, we must not lose.'' Lyon, who have never made it past the quarter-finals in Europe's elite club competition, are second in the Ligue 1 table after winning their last four matches.

However, they will be without two long-term injury victims, goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and defender Cris.

Probable teams: Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 11-Gianluca Zambrotta, 12-Gabriel Milito, 21-Lilian Thuram, 22-Eric Abidal; 24-Yaya Toure, 6-Xavi, 20-Deco; 14-Thierry Henry, 10-Ronaldinho, 19-Lionel Messi.

Lyon: 30-Remy Vercoutre; 11-Fabio Grosso, 29-Sebastien Squillaci, 22-Cleber Anderson, 2-Francois Clerc; 28-Jeremy Toulalan, 6-Kim Kallstrom, 5-Mathieu Bodmer, 8-Juninho; 14-Sidney Govou, 10-Karim Benzema.

Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland) Reuters TB DB1008

Please Wait while comments are loading...