Created on 12-04-2009 at 00:00 AM
Barcelona have warmed up for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final return away to Bayern with a routine league victory. Four days after cruising past the men from Munich in the first leg, the La Liga leaders beat 18th-placed Recreativo Huelva 2-0 to preserve their six-point lead at the top of the standings.
Even in the absence of rested stars Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Xavi, Yaya Touré and Samuel Eto’o, the Catalan giants needed just 42 seconds to open the scoring on Saturday, Andres Iniesta converting Thierry Henry's assist for the fastest goal of the Spanish league season so far.
New record for Valdés
Coach "Pep" Guardiola's side took things easy after that, not doubling the advantage until the 68th minute when Recreativo defender Nasief Morris put through his own goal. Barcelona could even afford the luxury of Lionel Messi missing an 81st-minute penalty, as keeper Victor Valdés set a new personal best of 453 minutes without conceding a goal.
Barca will be confident when they arrive in the Bavarian capital on Monday, although Guardiola will have to make one enforced change to his team. Central defender Rafael Marquez is suspended, with Puyol poised to stand in at centre-half, and left-back Éric Abidal set to return from injury.
Guardiola in the stands
Coach Guardiola is himself subject to a one-match UEFA ban after a touchline outburst during last Wednesday's first leg, and will observe the return from the Allianz Arena stands. Assistant Tito Villanova will deputise for his boss in the coaching zone. "He'll do just fine," a relaxed Guardiola commented.
However, the former Barca star also warned his men to treat the game with great caution. "Bayern are entirely capable of scoring four times, especially when they're on the ropes as they are now. I don't believe they've written off their chances. I'm convinced they'll come at us and play well. If we're not careful, they'll overrun us."
Barca President Joan Laporta voiced similar thoughts. "We'll have to be on our guard, because we're not in the semi-finals yet. It's not over, and we'll have our work cut out in Munich," Laporta warned. The Catalans lead 4-0 from the first leg at Camp Nou.
Guardiola's squad selection, announced on Sunday, indicates just how seriously the coach is taking the Allianz Arena clash. Apart from Marquez, the injured Gabriel Milito and reserves Jorquera, Pedro and Víctor Sánchez, Barca will bring their entire star-studded ensemble to Munich. Some 2,000 fans will also make the trip, keen to witness their side progressing to the last four.