Barca keep eye on Europe, not El Clasico
LISBON - Barcelona prepare for their Champions League clash away to Benfica on Tuesday with one eye on the El Clasico next weekend but coach Tito Vilanova feels the European game is at least as important.
When Vilanova took over the helm from Pep Guardiola in the summer his target was not just to bring La Liga title back to Camp Nou but also the European crown which they have won twice in the last four years.
Barcelona could not have started better in La Liga with six straight wins while they also made a victorious start to their European campaign with a tight 3-2 win over Spartak Moscow in their Group G opener.
"This next match is sufficiently important, almost more so than the league game (against Real Madrid at the weekend)," said Vilanova.
"We are not in a position to think about games ahead as we have to give our best in each one. We are only just starting and now we face a Benfica side which has done well in the Champions League."
Despite their 100 per cent domestic record, Barca have still had difficulties in both the league and in Europe where they have struggled to come out on top.
A week ago it took the introduction of Xavi Hernandez to come on and give Barca the lead in the 86th minute against Granada.
On Saturday, they were losing 2-0 against Sevilla before eventually coming through 3-2 with their winner by David Villa scored in the third minute of injury time.
In fact, 10 of their 17 goals in the league have come in the final 20 minutes.
"When teams come from behind it shows that they have hunger and want to continue winning," said Vilanova.
"I would prefer not to have to take so many risks to get the result as one of these days we are going to push forward and concede a goal on the counter-attack.
"It is better to have the game under control from the start but still this team is capable of turning matches around."
Barca have had to cope with a number of injuries, especially in defence, but Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta have both been passed fit.
Thiago Alcantara, however, suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury against Sevilla and will be out for two months.
Benfica drew their opening Group G game with Celtic 0-0 and warmed up for this match with a 2-1 away win over Pacos Ferreira.
Brazilian striker Rodrigo Lima struck twice and now Benfica have 11 points from five games domestically.
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