Lyon coach Claude Puel is urging his players to concentrate on their own strengths rather than dwell on those of Barcelona as the two teams compete for a quarter-final berth.
The French titleholders could be forgiven for adopting a degree of caution in Tuesday’s home first leg.
Although their opponents are the competition’s top scorers with 18 goals and in Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry possess one of the most feared attacks in the game, Puel insists Lyon cannot approach the game in a cautious frame of mind.
“Barcelona have so many talented players, if we try to man-mark them all we’ll be in trouble,” he said. “We never focus our attention on an opposition player, no matter how good he is. We need to concentrate on our own game.”
Puel will draw encouragement from his side’s excellent recent domestic form where they have established a six-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.
“Barcelona may have more individual quality than us but in Juninho [Pernambucano] and [Karim] Benzema we also have match-winners,” said Puel. “It’s possible for us to win if we remain collectively strong,” added the 47-year-old, who will utilise John Mensah at right-back in the continued absence of Francois Clerc and Anthony Reveillere, while Mathieu Bodmer, Sidney Govou and Fabio Santos are also injured.
Runaway leaders at the midway point of the season, Barcelona have seen their advantage in the Spanish Liga cut to seven points after first drawing with Real Betis and then losing 2-1 to local rivals Espanyol.
This blip has prompted talk of a deep-seated problem, although coach Josep Guardiola is keen to keep things in perspective.
“We’ve lost one game,” the 38-year-old said. “In sport, this can happen. When we were winning I said we have to keep working and trying to improve. Now we’ve lost I’m saying the same thing. We could analyse the Espanyol defeat all we like but we don’t have time. The Lyon game is extremely important and we’ll need to give it our full attention.”
Barça defeated Lyon 3-0 at the Camp Nou in last season’s group stage before drawing 2-2 away, yet Guardiola remains wary of the French double winners.
“They’re an excellent side,” he said. “They often change coach but they’re still going to win an eighth straight title. We know all about Benzema, of course, but players like Juninho and [Cesar] Delgado will also pose a threat.”
The visitors are without former Lyon left-back Eric Abidal, who picked up a groin injury against Espanyol, joining Andres Iniesta on the sidelines.