Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, left, fights for the ball with Benfica’s Joao Mario during a Group E Champions League soccer match between FC Barcelona and Benfica at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain, on Tuesday 23 November 2021 (AP Photo / Joan Monfort)


Having failed to do the homework against Benfica, Barcelona know they will likely need an unbeaten win at Bayern Munich to avoid their first Champions League group stage elimination in nearly two decades.

Barcelona’s hopes of advancing into Europe’s top club competition took a hit with a 0-0 draw against Benfica on Tuesday at the Camp Nou stadium.

A victory would have guaranteed Barcelona a place in the round of 16 for the 18th consecutive season, but he was unable to capitalize on his chances in Xavi Hernández’s coaching debut in the Champions League.

Defender Ronald Araújo believed he scored the deciding goal in the 83rd, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Benfica had their own chance in stoppage time when Haris Seferovic passed Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen but failed to find the net, sending some Benfica players and coach Jorge Jesus to the floor of despair.

The draw kept the Catalan club in second place in Group E, two points ahead of Benfica, but the Portuguese have the tie-breaker advantage if they already beat Dynamo Kiev at home and Barcelona fail to defeat the group winner Bayern in Germany in the final round.

Bayern won 2-1 at Dynamo in the other group game on Tuesday for their fifth consecutive win in the competition.

“We’re leaving with a bitter taste in our mouths because we wanted to seal the qualifying spot here at home in front of our fans,” Araújo said. “We played a good game but we couldn’t score the goal which would have been essential for us to progress. Now remains the last game against Bayern, which will be complicated, but not impossible.

Xavi, the former midfielder who helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles as a player, made his managerial debut in a well-deserved victory over Espanyol in a derby of the Spanish league this weekend – a result that ended the team’s four-game winless streak.

“We played a great game but we couldn’t score,” said Xavi. “We are optimistic. We are Barcelona and we will go to Munich to win this game, as we are trying to do against all the teams. We will play with the same attitude that we played today.

Benfica haven’t made it past the group stage since 2016-17, when they were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16.

Barcelona played well and seemed in control from the start although that didn’t create many meaningful scoring opportunities.

It was Benfica who almost broke the deadlock in the 34th with a powerful header from Roman Yaremchuck that caused Ter Stegen to stop his foot on the goal line. A few minutes later, a goal from Nicolás Otamendi failed because Everton’s free-kick cross went out of bounds in preparation.

Barcelona responded when Yusuf Demir’s left-footed shot hit the crossbar in the 42nd, and in the second half Memphis Depay nearly opened the scoring in a breakaway in the 57th.

Ousmane Dembélé, coming off an injury, came off the bench in the 66th and quickly set up a header from Frenkie de Jong which caused a difficult save from Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos. Dembélé also had a chance in a head-to-head situation in the final minutes but couldn’t get a shot on goal as Otamendi came in to deflect the ball.

“The team played well in a tough game against a Barcelona side that have a new manager and new ambition,” Otamendi said. “We could have won, we could have lost, but we played a great game and I’m happy for Now we have a home final and we’re going to try to play to win and try to qualify.

Barcelona, ​​in their first season without Lionel Messi in nearly two decades, have become in danger of elimination after opening with back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Bayern and Benfica. He recovered thanks to back-to-back 1-0 wins against Dynamo.

Benfica’s victory over Barcelona in their first game was the first in six decades for the Portuguese side against the Catalan club.

Xavi was without Sergi Roberto due to an injury, while Sergiño Dest, who was also treating an injury, started off the bench.