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Bartra must prove himself soon

By ESPN Staff

Koeman revels in Benfica underdog status

April 4 (Reuters) - Benfica coach Ronald Koeman is happy his team are underdogs for their Champions League quarter-final return against Barcelona and is confident they can spring a surprise against his former club.

The Portuguese team need a win or a scoring draw to eliminate the much-fancied Primera Liga side after the two sides drew 0-0 in last week's first leg in Lisbon.

'It could be dangerous for Barcelona to be seen as favourites,' the Dutchman told a news conference on Tuesday. 'There have been many other favourites and they haven't got through.

'We know where to hurt Barcelona and we'll be fighting right up to the last minute to do it.'

Koeman said that even though his team were missing leading striker Nuno Gomes for Wednesday's match, he was confident his forwards could repeat the sort of performance that put last season's winners Liverpool out in the last round.

'Everyone is talking about the players Barcelona have got, but we also have players up front who are capable of deciding a game as they have done before.

'If we were capable of scoring two goals against a team like Liverpool that doesn't concede many then we can do it against Barcelona.'

He also dismissed any suggestions that his team would be intimidated by the atmosphere at the Nou Camp.

'This team doesn't know the meaning of the word fear, but we respect Barca and we know it will be difficult.'


The former Barcelona player, who enjoys a special status at the Catalan club for scoring the winner in their 1-0 victory over Sampdoria in their only European Cup final triumph in 1992, said he was delighted to be facing up to his old club.

'It's great to go back to a place where I felt so at home,' he said.

Barca coach Frank Rijkaard accepted that his side were favourites for the tie, but said that there was no danger of them taking anything for granted against Benfica.

'Everyone is expecting us to eliminate Benfica, but it is still a big challenge for us and we are going to be approaching the game with huge motivation.'

The Dutchman added that he was not worried by his side's recent barren run in front of goal.

'Barcelona are the top-scoring team in the league,' he said. 'It's true that we haven't scored from open play in the last three games, but, with the forwards we have, we have a great capacity to score goals.'