Pep Guardiola urges Barcelona to be wary of Leverkusen comeback
Pep Guardiola expects Bayer Leverkusen to attack at Camp Nou in an attempt to overturn a 3-1 aggregate deficit against Barcelona
Pep Guardiola has warned his Barcelona side not to be complacent despite holding a 3-1 aggregate lead ahead of the second leg of their last-16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The holders eased to victory in the first leg at the BayArena courtesy of Alexis Sánchez’s brace and Lionel Messi’s 88th-minute strike.
But Barcelona coach Guardiola is wary of the German side’s threat after Leverkusen sealed their first league victory against Bayern Munich in 15 attempts at the weekend.
“Leverkusen never give up a match as being lost, never give up,” Guardiola said. “It looks like they’re dead and suddenly they hit back. I hope we have 70 per cent of possession, I really do.
“What concerns me is their speed. They have their chances of qualifying, of course they do. But Bayer want to be at the top again.
“We have to control the match and make sure they don’t pick up speed.”
The Catalan are unbeaten in 13 games at Camp Nou in Europe dating back to October 2009, winning 11 of these fixtures.
In addition, Barcelona have progressed 31 of the 33 times when they’ve won the first leg tie in Europe’s elite club competition.
“Recently we have gone into the second legs of the round of 16 after a draw or a defeat,” added Guardiola.
“This season we are in a better position than in previous seasons, so I imagine you won’t be asking me many questions about the game because people think it’s done against Leverkusen.
“We dominated Leverkusen in the first half but they were very strong in the second half, and very fast.
“This competition is very tough and to reach the quarter-finals would be great because this tournament is so good.”
Pre-match facts: Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen
• Bayer Leverkusen have lost the first leg at home on seven occasions, and have gone out on aggregate every time.
• Barcelona beat Stuttgart 4-0 at home at this stage of the 2009/10 campaign and have won their last nine Camp Nou encounters with German visitors, scoring 24 goals and conceding four.
• Leverkusen are looking to reach the last eight for the first time since 2002, when they advanced to the final before losing to Real Madrid CF, although to do so they must overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit.
• Barcelona scored 20 goals in the group stage, equalling a record set by Manchester United in 1998/99; their seven-match total of 23 goals is more than any other club in this season’s competition.