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Dec 5, 2012

Adriano: Barca not taking Benfica lightly

Barcelona defender Adriano Correia says he and his team-mates are taking Wednesday's Champions League game against Benfica very seriously, even though the Catalans will field a less than full strength side.

• Messi in contention for Benfica
• Blog: Is Deulofeu ready?

With Barca confirmed as group winners regardless of the result at Camp Nou, coach Tito Vilanova will rest first-teamers Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Pedro Rodriguez, while Barca B players Sergi Gomez, Carles Planas, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Gerard Deulofeu and Cristian Tello look set to feature.

But Adriano does not believe the team selection means the game, which could impact on Celtic's chances of progressing to the last 16 of the competition, is being taken lightly by Barcelona.

"Every game is important," he said. "This is the Champions League, and there are players coming back from injury, others that do not get to play as much, and it is important for the team and our image. We will give it 100%, knowing that Benfica are fighting for qualification."

Lionel Messi has been included in Vilanova's squad for the game, with the Argentine now just one goal behind Ger Muller's calendar year record of 85. Adriano said his team-mate breaking the record would be a bonus, but was not something to obsess about.

"If he scores, so much the better," Adriano said. "We all want him to beat a record that has stood for 40 years, and want to help to make that happen for him. But it would be best if he plays as he normally does, and does not get obsessed with it. [His number of goals] just shows he is getting better with each game, and with each season."

The versatile Brazilian admitted he was surprised to have already scored five goals himself this season, having just managed one in each of his two previous years with the Catalan club.

"I honestly did not expect to score so much," he said. "Since I started out ten years ago, this has been my best start to a season. We defenders also like to score and contribute to the attack."

Adriano, who joined Barca in 2009 for €10m, confirmed that talks have already begun about extending his current contract, which ends in 18 months' time.

"I am very interested in extending my contract, and I believe Barca are too," he said. "I will keep working and then the renewal will come. I worked hard in Brazil and Seville to get to play for the best team in the world. It is a tremendous joy to play for this Barca team, to learn so much from Pep and Tito and to have won so many things."

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