Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard is looking forward to meeting former club Milan in the Champions League semi-finals following their 2-0 aggregate win over Benfica.
“I think it will be a very interesting game against a very strong team,” said the Dutchman who won two European Cups with the Italian club.
“They’ve been playing at an extremely high level in recent years and have got a very strong squad of players.”
Despite his links with the Rossoneri Rijkaard denied that the game would hold special significance for him.
“Personally for me the tie will not mean anything special because I have faced them before both as a player and as a coach,” he added. “It will just be a hard fought game between two very strong sides.”
Rijkaard admitted that the significance of the occasion had contributed to his side’s nervy display against Benfica at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
“Benfica have the reputation of playing very well away from home and they created a couple of very dangerous occasions during the match, so the tension was understandable,” said Rijkaard. “While the score was 1-0 we could never relax.
“We played well in the first half, but there was more tension in the second half. We were winning but the situation could change at any moment. I was delighted we could score a second goal to allow us to relax.”
Benfica coach Ronald Koeman said that his side were also anxious.
“We found it difficult to settle at the start and were nervous but we improved as the game wore on and had a couple of chances to equalise that would have put them out,” he said.
“Barca were superior over the two games, but there appeared to be a certain influence against us from the referees,” he said. “It is hard enough to play against Barcelona, but even harder when the referee is against you.
“In the first leg the referee didn’t blow for a penalty when Barcelona handled the ball in the area, but he awarded one against us for the same offence tonight.
“The incidents were more or less the same, but there was a clear difference in the decisions of the two referees.”
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