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Seductive Barcelona knows only one way to play
by Paul Kennedy, April 28th, 2009 7AM



Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola says Tuesday's semifinal against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League (TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, live, 2:30 pm ET)  is another chance for his players to show off their brand of attacking soccer.

"Barca is obliged to play an attractive game and there is no other way I know for us to play," Guardiola said on Monday. "Tomorrow is a big chance for us to show the world our style and we will be trying to seduce with our way of playing. Our principles are not for renouncing and we will never give them up as long as I am coach."

Barcelona is coming off an outstanding display on in the first leg of the quarterfinals -- a 4-0 win over Bayern Munich. With its five goals in the quarterfinals, Barca pushed its total for the Champions League to 29 goals, the most of any team in the competition.

With 94 goals in 33 La Liga games, Barca is averaging 2.85 goals per game -- the most by a team in a major European league in almost 50 years.

The big three -- Samuel Eto'o (32 goals), Lionel Messi (29) and Thierry Henry (23) -- have combined for 84 goals in La Liga and the Champions League.

Barcelona will be carrying the banner of La Liga into the final four, which includes three EPL teams, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, for the second year in a row.

Midfielder Xavi, for one, thinks La Liga is better.

"We are not here by chance," the Spain international said. "Technically and tactically speaking. I think the Spanish league is better. But the result of a single match won't settle that debate one way or the other."

Chelsea, which allowed four goals in its 4-4 tie with Liverpool that sent the Blues into the semifinals, will be sending out a makeshift defense to combat the Barca attack.

Portuguese right back Jose Bosingwa (who has played less than one full game in the last five weeks) will start at left back in place of the suspended Ashley Cole.

"I could start crying about not having Cole in that position and also look for excuses," Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink. "I am not like that, I like to put the full energy and the confidence to [the player] who is substituting him in that position. Whoever is playing against Messi will have a tremendous job to do because he is the most productive player in the world and one of the players you like to watch, except when you play him."

Ricardo Carvalho has a hamstring problem, and fellow Portuguese defender Paulo Ferreira is out for the season with a knee injury.

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