x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Guardiola favours English opponents for quarter-finals

Barcelona would relish a match against one of the four English clubs that have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals, their coach Pep Guardiola said.

Barcelona's Thierry Henry, right, takes on Lyon's Kim Kallstrom during their second leg match in the Camp Nou.
Barcelona's Thierry Henry, right, takes on Lyon's Kim Kallstrom during their second leg match in the Camp Nou.

BARCELONA // Barcelona would relish a match against one of the four English clubs that have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals along with the Primera Liga leaders, their coach Pep Guardiola said. "If you want to win the Champions League you have to play with the best in Europe," the former Barca and Spain midfielder said after the Catalans overwhelmed Lyon 5-2 at the Camp Nou. "So we'll take the challenge. It would be nice to taste success against one of the English sides," he added. "If we have to play one of them it will definitely be a good match."

Barca enjoyed a thrilling return to form at a packed stadium on Wednesday, racing to a 4-0 lead thanks to Thierry Henry's quick-fire double, a trademark Lionel Messi run and cool finish and a powerful Samuel Eto'o strike. They are still in with a chance of winning a treble with the Champions League, Primera Liga and Copa del Rey and have a six-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid in the Spanish league.

The 2006 winners reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, losing to eventual winners Manchester United, and Guardiola said the quartet of United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool would all be formidable opponents in the last eight. "It will be difficult for us but they have to come here to play so I'm sure it will be difficult for them too," he said. "Whoever our opponents are, we will study them closely and try to pinpoint their weaknesses. Whoever we are drawn against is welcome."

The quarter-final line-up was completed by Porto, who squeezed through on the away goals rule after a 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid. Bayern Munich and Villarreal are also in the quarter-final draw on March 20. *Reuters