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Barca have chance to avenge 1994 final defeat

Written by: Staff

MADRID, Apr 25 (Reuters) Barcelona will wipe out one of their bitterest memories in European competition if they can knock AC Milan out of the Champions League when the teams meet in the second leg of their semi-final tomorrow.

Johan Cruyff's so-called ''dream team'', which won four consecutive league titles and the club's only European Cup in 1992, were crushed 4-0 by the Italians in the 1994 final, a humiliation that still rankles with Barca supporters.

Now the side that many believe could rival the achievements of the Cruyff era has the chance to become the first team since 1956 to knock the Italian giants out of the competition at the semi-final stage.

Barca hold a 1-0 advantage after their win at the San Siro and with an unbeaten European home record that stretches back three seasons, they are in a strong position to secure their place in a fifth final -- and first since that 1994 defeat.

Midfielder Deco, who returns after missing the first leg through suspension, insisted his team would not take anything for granted at the Nou Camp against the six-times European champions.

''We could be in for an even more difficult game than when we played at their ground,'' he said yesterday. ''We will have to be 100 percent focused if we are to go through.

''They will be going full out because they know they have to win and they will be on the attack and pressuring us all the time. We can't allow them to have as many chances as they had at the San Siro.'' BARCELONA RESTED Unlike Milan, who had to dig deep to claim a 3-1 comeback win over Messina at the weekend, Barca will be well rested for tomorrow's match after their league game in Sevilla was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.

''We had to wait a long time to see if they would play the game,'' said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard. ''The good thing, though, is that we didn't have to use any energy.'' Although the rest would have given Ronaldinho time to recover from muscle pains, the Catalans will be without Argentine forward Lionel Messi and fullback Oleguer who are injured.

Sweden striker Henrik Larsson is doubtful because of a thigh strain.


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