Champions League

Barcelona focused on Benfica

October 1, 2012
By Press Association

Barcelona director of football Andoni Zubizarreta said the club's players will not be distracted by thoughts of this weekend's Clasico when they face Benfica in the Champions League Tuesday (2:45 p.m. ET).

"These are two different competitions," Zubizarreta told reporters. "Right now, we have to focus on the Champions League. Then on Wednesday we can think about the league again."

Lionel Messi will look to give Jamie nightmares this weekend
PA PhotosLionel Messi: 'Each game is different.'

Barca forward Lionel Messi said that the club's reputation means no match is ever straightforward.

"Each game is different. They are all tough," Messi told El Pais. "We could not score against Granada for 85 minutes, against Spartak we almost lost. It gets more difficult each time. We want to attack and they sit back and look for our weak point. If they get lucky and manage a good counter-attack, they can make it very difficult for us."

Barca travelled to Lisbon Monday still high from a thrilling 3-2 win over Sevilla on Saturday that maintained their 100 percent start to the new Primera Division campaign.

Victory against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Sunday will see Tito Vilanova's men open up an 11-point gap over their arch-rivals, but ahead of flying out to Portugal Monday, Zubizarreta said that the Champions League was the only focus for the time being.

"It's still only October and there are a lot of points still to play for," he said.

Barcelona's win over Sevilla was their sixth on the bounce in La Liga, while they kicked off their Champions League campaign with a victory at home to Spartak Moscow.

Zubizarreta said the run will have little impact on Tuesday's Group G encounter at Lisbon, but he stressed the importance of getting good points on the board early on.

"Winning steaks are built game by game," he said. "The results have been very good up until now but on Tuesday we are starting from scratch once again. Previous results are a good reference, but we are always starting from zero.

"In a short tournament like the Champions League, and especially in the group stages, good results early on can avoid suffering nearer to the end."

Barcelona have been dealt a blow ahead of the game after midfielder Thiago Alcantara was ruled out for up to eight weeks after scans showed he suffered knee ligament damage in the win at Sevilla.

His absence has been tempered by the return of Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Adriano, all of whom have been named in Vilanova's travelling party but remain doubtful.

"Puyol, Iniesta and Adriano are three great players, and now we've also lost Thiago. But these things happen in football," said Zubizarreta.

"We'll try to get them fit as quickly as possible and when they come back, they'll be coming back with their full potential."

Benfica also head into the match boasting the leadership in their domestic league after an unbeaten start to the season.

Jorge Jesus' troops have won three and drawn two of their Liga outings so far and kicked off their Champions League campaign with a goalless draw at Celtic.

The hosts, seeking their first win over Spanish opposition for 30 years, welcome back Pablo Aimar after the midfielder was ruled out of the 2-1 win over Pacos de Ferreira at the weekend with a right leg injury.

Oscar Cardozo misses out with a left thigh strain, however, meaning Lima -- who scored both goals in Benfica's weekend win -- is likely to lead the line up front.