Wednesday 22 November 2017

Barca will not relax

Pep Guardiola faces a delicate balancing act away to Shakhtar Donetsk tonight, making sure to guard against surprises while a double-header with Real Madrid looms on the horizon.

Barca hold a comfortable 5-1 first-leg advantage that has them on the brink of the last four of the Champions League, but their coach is desperate to avoid any sense of relaxation among his players.

Maintaining their winning momentum will be important because on their return they face a La Liga trip to Real Madrid on Saturday.

Guardiola described the Madrid game as "a unique opportunity to strike a decisive blow," after his side came back to beat Almeria 3-1 at home on Saturday; they top the league by eight points.

Four days after the clasico, they face Real again in the King's Cup final, and assuming Jose Mourinho's men suffer no slip ups away to Spurs tomorrow, the Spanish giants are likely to meet again in the Champions League semis.

Barca travel without the injured Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal and Bojan Krkic while Andres Iniesta is suspended.

Shakhtar will be looking to bounce back after they suffered their first defeat at the new Dondass Arena on Saturday, losing 1-0 to FC Obolon.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Barcelona,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.45

Irish Independent

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