Barcelona, Liverpool in high profile clash

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Defending champion FC Barcelona take on five-time winner Liverpool in the high-profile Champions League match on Wednesday.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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After public outbursts and in-squad fighting, defending champion FC Barcelona and five-time winner Liverpool are trying to get the focus back on their high-profile Champions League match on Wednesday. Barcelona has never scored against Liverpool at the Nou Camp, where the Reds have one win and two draws in three meetings. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez wants to add another win. "We are not going there to draw 0-0. We are going there to try to win the game," Benitez said. "We know it can be a big advantage going back to Anfield if we score a goal." Liverpool, which won the European title in 2005, had a weeklong training trip to Portugal to prepare for the first leg of the second round at Barcelona's 98,000-capacity Nou Camp. But the Reds' plans backfired after Wales forward Craig Bellamy allegedly hit teammate John Arne Riise in the legs with a golf club after a drinking spree and spat over a karaoke competition. Bellamy's future at Liverpool is now reportedly in doubt. Bellamy is in the squad for the match against the two-time European champions, along with winger Jermaine Pennant, goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and striker Robbie Fowler, who also reportedly face club sanctions after being accused of being drunk and rowdy at their hotel Friday night. At Barcelona, striker Samuel Eto'o stirred unrest last week after criticizing coach Frank Rijkaard and forward Ronaldinho. Eto'o's remarks caused a rift within the Barca locker room, with Rijkaard having to publicly pledge his future at the club after rumors emerged the Dutchman could be on his way out. Ronaldinho - the club's leading league scorer with 16 goals - was linked with a move to AC Milan on Tuesday after the Italian club's vice president Adriano Galliani expressed interest in the Brazilian. No concentration problems Barcelona defender Liliam Thuram said the off-field publicity wouldn't affect the team's performance. "The team hasn't suffered from concentration problems," said Thuram, who is fit after recovering from a left leg injury. "We need to play our game. The most important thing is that the team wins." Coming off a 2-1 loss at Valencia on Sunday, Barcelona is struggling with only three wins in its last nine league games. It must also travel to Zaragoza on Feb. 28 for a Copa del Rey quarterfinal match, after losing the first leg at home 1-0. Eto'o is still doubtful with a lingering knee injury but Rijkaard can play forward Lionel Messi, who has recovered from a broken foot. The Catalan club hopes to become the first team to repeat in Europe since Milan won in 1989 and 1990. Liverpool's players said the size of the stadium could work to their advantage. "The Nou Camp is a massive stadium with a lot of fans, but they are a lot of fans who can be very critical," Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden said. "If things aren't going the way they want it, they could get on the back of the Barcelona players, so we can use that. We're capable of going through."

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