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Barcelona will look to take a firm grip on Group G with a win over Benfica
Barcelona are in a good spot after the first round of matches in Group G. They were the only side to get a victory and sit alone a top the group. They travel to Benfica today looking to take firm control of the group with a win over the Portuguese side.
Tito Vilanova's side got a boost with Carles Puyol, Adriano and Andres Iniesta participating fully in training on Sunday. None of the trio are likely to start, but having them back is a step in the right direction at least. Gerard Pique is the only piece missing as he continues to recover from his foot injury.
Barca should be flying high after their miraculous comeback this weekend from a 2-0 deficit at Sevilla to win 3-2. That said, their defensive struggles continue to make life harder than it should be for the Blaugrana. Javier Mascherano and Alex Song will likely remain the starting tandem in the central defense, simple because there really aren't any other good options at the moment.
Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus will be without his leading scorer Oscar Cardozo for the match after the striker suffered a muscle related injury. Brazilian Rodrigo Lima will replace Cardozo and should have plenty of confidence after scoring a brace in Benfica's win over Pacos Ferreira on the weekend. Don't think Lima is a step down though for Benfica, he was joint top scorer alongside Cardozo last season.
Our Barcelona blog, Barca Blaugrana, has an in-depth preview of the match.
Benfica injuries and suspensions
Out: Oscar Cardozo (muscle), Luisao (suspended).
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Out: Thiago Alcantara (knee) In Doubt: Gerard Pique (foot).
Thiago will miss two months after rupturing ligament in his knee against Sevilla. Pique is still recovering from his foot injury and is not expected to play. Oscar Cardozo is a big loss for Benfica. He's their leading scorer and best attacking option up front.
Match Date/Time: 7:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Dr. Constantin Rădulescu Stadium, Cluj-Rapica, Romania
TV: FOX Sports Net (U.S.), FOX Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sky Sports 4 (U.K.), Sportsnet (Canada)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)