Benfica coach fails to call Vilanovas bluff
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said on Monday that he did not believe his Benfica counterpart Jorge Jesus's claim that the Portuguese side would play for a draw in Tuesday's Champions League group game.
Barcelona - who have never won on two visits to play Benfica in Lisbon, drawing 0-0 on both occasions in 1991 and 2006 - will start as warm favourites having won all six La Liga matches so far and having eked out a 3-2 home win over Spartak Moscow in their Champions League opener.
Benfica too are unbeaten but could only manage a 0-0 draw away at Celtic in their opening Champions League game.
However, Vilanova was having none of Jesus's claiming Benfica would play for a draw.
"I know that the Benfica coach said he would be satisfied with a draw, but I don't believe he thinks that," said Vilanova.
"They are playing at home, I cannot possibly think that they are simply going to hit us on the counter attack.
"But if that does prove to be the case then we will change nothing and play our usual style of match, without worrying about their tactics," added the 44-year-old.
Vilanova, who stepped up from assistant coach to the senior post when Pep Guardiola resigned at the end of last season, said that there was enough of a challenge awaiting the team given the previous failures by their predecessors.
"Barca came here already (in 1991 and 2006) with two great teams and never managed to score.
"Therefore it is an extra challenge for my players. They have the possibility of winning here, something Barca have never achieved. And thankfully my players adore challenges."
Vilanova revealed also that iconic defender Carles Puyol had made a remarkable recovery from a knee injury he suffered in the middle of last month and which it was thought would keep him out for four to six weeks - instead he has battled back quicker than expected and is in the squad.
"I guess it is his mental strength that has helped him get back so quickly," said Vilanova.
"But it is not the first time that has happened. These rapid returns, when they happen more than once, aren't by chance: it is down to hard work and an iron will to come back."
Related Barcelona News