Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has named Alexis Sanchez and Pedro in his three-pronged attack as the Catalan side travel to Lisbon to take on Benfica in Group G of the Champions League this evening. The duo will partner Lionel Messi, who will start the match in the ‘false 9’ role.
The Spanish Primera Division side also receive a massive boost at the back as club captain Carles Puyol returns from injury to partner Javier Mascherano in the centre of defence. A trio of Xavi, Sergio Busquets, and Cesc Fabregas start for Barcelona in a strong midfield named by Vilanova.
Benfica also start the match fielding a 4-3-3 formation. New signing Lima has been handed a Champions League debut for Jorge Jesus as regular starting striker Oscar Cardozo is out injured. Bruno Cesar, Nemanja Matic and Enzo Perez start for the hosts in what is a competitive midfield trio.
Brazilian defender Jardel continues to partner Ezequiel Garay in the centre of defence, with Benfica captain Luisao currently serving a two-month suspension.
Benfica (4-3-3): Artur; Maxi Pereira, Garay, Jardel, Melgarejo; Bruno Cesar, Matic, Perez; Salvio, Lima, Gaitan.
Subs: Paulo Lopes, Miguel Vitor, Andre Almeida, Nolito, Aimar, Carlos Martins, Rodrigo.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Pedro, Messi, Alexis.
Subs: Pinto, Adriano, Iniesta, Song, Sergi Roberto, Villa, Tello.