Champions League – Rijkaard rallies Barça

Coach Frank Rijkaard has called on his Barcelona team to be brave and organised in their Champions League semi-final second leg at Manchester United on Tuesday.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 - Frank Rijkaard, Barcelona coach - 0

Barcelona’s recent form is poor, recording one win in nine Liga matches and having gone three games without a goal including Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.

“Occasions like this are what footballers dream of,” Rijkaard said. “While I respect United we have to believe in ourselves.

“The key thing will be keeping organised and playing the way we want to play. We have to be brave. It will take a big effort to get through.”

Dutchman Rijkaard knows Barcelona face a difficult task as United have won their last 11 home games in the Champions League.

But Gianluca Zambrotta said victories at Celtic and Schalke in the knockout stages of the competition gave Barcelona good reason to be confident.

“We have had difficulties getting results away from home in the league,” said the Italian defender. “Fortunately in the Champions League we have managed to improve our away form.

“Without a doubt it’s the most important game of the season. We have an experienced group of players and that will be important for us.

“We know with a victory we will be in the Moscow final and that’s what we are going all out for.”

United have gone three games without a win and Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea means they could miss out on a trophy this season if their bad run continues.

“We could say both teams are showing signs of tiredness,” said Zambrotta. “We both want to get to the final but both sides have shown signs of wear and tear.”

Barcelona will be strengthened from the first leg by the return from suspension of captain Carles Puyol, although the banned Rafael Marquez misses out.

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Written by Israel Saria

For the last 20 years I have been working as a football pundit. This experience has provided me with a very useful insight into football and the opportunity to carry out extensive research into the game including its players, the stadiums, the rules and tactics and I have also been grateful to meet a wide range of people connected to football in the UK, Tanzania, Germany .....

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