Champions League last 16: Barca and Lyon focus on Europe


Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona
UEFA Champions League last 16
Tuesday, February 14; 19:45


Team News

Michael Ballack will definitely miss the first-leg against the reigning champions after sitting out Bayer Leverkusen's last three games.

Winger Sidney Sam is also out for the hosts.

Barcelona are likely to be able to call upon Sergio Busquests after a knee injury, but David Villa, Andreu Fontas and Ibrahim Afellay are all long-term absentees.

Barca turn to Champions League

Barcelona will make becoming the first club to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era their No.1 priority between now and the end of the season, according to director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta.

The Catalans went 10 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga over the weekend, suffering defeat to Osasuna while Jose Mourinho's side overcome Levante.

Such is the deficit, the club are ready to turn their focus on their European season upon the resumption of the competition tonight.

"The league is very difficult now, but we are not going to stop competing and we will keep up the pressure," said their director of sport, Andoni Zubizarreta said.

"Obviously it is not in our hands, nor does it depend on the game at the Nou Camp. We are a club set up to compete in every competition and when you are not able to do that, then it does leave a bitter aftertaste.

"But we are able to regroup and start afresh."

Bayer Leverkusen, who qualified from Group E ahead of much fancied Valencia, will have taken solace from the ease at which Osasuna breached Barca three times over the weekend.

Coach Robin Dutt is challenging his side to beat the odds yet again.

"Nobody has ever believed in us in the Champions League," he said. "We went behind twice - to Valencia and to Chelsea - and in the end, the winners were Bayer Leverkusen."


Lyon v APOEL Nicosia
UEFA Champions League last-16
Stade Gerland
Tuesday, February 14; 19:45

Team News

Both Lyon and APOEL go into Tuesday's first leg with a number of injury concerns in defence.

The returning John Mensah has only recently returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Dejan Lovren's Achilles problem is preventing his return.

APOEL pair Marcelo Oliveira and Paulo Jorge are both missing, so Nuno Morais is likely to called upon at the back.

Garde not taking APOEL lightly

Lyon manager Remi Garde is refusing to accept his side are clear favourites going into their first leg tie against APOEL Nicosia.

APOEL were the first club firm Cyprus to ever qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League, topping Group G ahead of Zenit St Petersburg, FC Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Garde's side required a second-half salvo in their final group match to assure themselves of qualification for the last-16, and therefore are wary of a shock.

"Whoever the opponent, you have to improve your level to perform well in the Champions League," Garde said.

"We know a lot of people believe we will easily win against APOEL. Of course, it's not our opinion. APOEL have had a wonderful group stage, they deserve a lot of respect, like any team that has reached the knockout stages."

Ivan Jovanovic, the APOEL boss, is fearing a backlash with Lyon well off the pace in the Ligue 1 title race.

"(Lyon) haven't been getting the results they wanted in Ligue 1 but they remain dangerous and there could be a reaction in the Champions League,"Jovanovic said.

"We haven't forgotten, though, that they have played five games in the last two weeks. The knockout stage is the 'true' Champions League. There's a lot at stake.

"We couldn't believe we were here at the beginning of the season. I honestly don't know what our best level is but I'm hoping that we can still improve."

News Now - Sport News