Spartak Moscow - Barcelona Preview: Injury-hit hosts face tall order against Catalan giants
The Russians' coach Unai Emery, who has not got the greatest record against the Blaugrana, will have his work cut out here with a number key players missing for their crucial game
By Craig Turnbull
Makeev, Bryzgalov, Suchy, Kombarov
Jurado, Ari, Gorbatenko
Alves, Puyol, Pique, Alba
Fabregas, Iniesta, Xavi
Pedro, Messi, Villa
Spartak Moscow have an injury crisis ahead of their crunch match with Group G table-toppers Barcelona.
The Russians have a goalkeeping dilemma, with third-choice Artem Rebrov now also ruled out having suffered an injury in Unai Emery's men's 1-1 draw with Volga at the weekend. He now joins Andriy Dikan and Sergei Pesyakov on the sidelines.
Also missing for the hosts are strikers Artem Dzyuba and Welliton while skipper Sergei Parshivlyuk, Russia international Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Brazil midfielder Romulo and Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady are unavailable.
Argentine defender Nicolas Pareja is suspended for the bottom of the table side who need a good result here to have any chance of reaching the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, Tito Vilanova will be looking for a response from his Barcelona team after falling to a shock 2-1 defeat to Celtic on Matchday 4.
The Catalans welcomed back Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol at the weekend where the Blaugrana disposed of Zaragoza 3-1 and it would be surprising if the pair did not start in the Russian capital.
One defender who is definitely ruled out is 21-year-old Marc Bartra, while attacker Alexis Sanchez is missing for up to four weeks after returning from international duty with Chile injured.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Spartak Moscow coach Unai Emery has the unenviable record against Barcelona having not won in his last 14 attempts versus the visitors.
- The hosts 2-1 victory over Benfica on Matchday 4 was just their second win in 16 attempts at home in the Group stages.
- Barcelona's Lionel Messi (pictured, right) is now just seven behind Gerd Muller's record of most goals in a calender year, having scored a double against Zaragoza at the weekend which takes his tally to 78.
- The Argentina international is the fourth top goalscorer in Champions League history behind Andriy Shevchenko Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raul.
- The Catalan giants with their win on Saturday equalled Real Madrid's 1991-92 record of 34 points from a possible 36 in La Liga - the best ever start to a Primera Division campaign.
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Top 3 Predictions
Spartak Moscow 1-3 Barcelona
- 20.4 %
Spartak Moscow 0-3 Barcelona
- 12.43 %
Spartak Moscow 1-4 Barcelona
- 8.78 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||20 Nov 2012||Spartak Moscow 0 - Barcelona 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||19 Sep 2012||Barcelona 3 - Spartak Moscow 2|
|8 Mar 2014||Terek Grozny 1 - Spartak Moscow 0||RUS1|
|7 Dec 2013||Rostov 1 - Spartak Moscow 0||RUS1|
|1 Dec 2013||Spartak Moscow 6 - Volga Nizhny Novgorod 1||RUS1|
|23 Nov 2013||CSKA Moscow 1 - Spartak Moscow 0||RUS1|
|10 Nov 2013||Spartak Moscow 4 - Zenit 2||RUS1|
|29||Juan Manuel Insaurralde||Defender|
|20||Demy de Zeeuw||Midfielder|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|12||Jonathan Dos Santos||Midfielder|
Having just recovered from injury, the onus is on the Nigerian to display the kind of predatory instincts which got him his goal against Celtic earlier on in the competition. But, up against a back-to-full strength Barcelona defence, it certainly will not be easy.
What more can be said about this incredible talent who is now only seven off Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in one calendar year. Lightning quick, and always seem to be half-a-yard ahead of his opponents, the Argentina international may well fancy his chances to cut the Germany legend's lead further on Tuesday against a depleted Spartak side.
This would be a difficult game for the Russians with a full-strength side but with an injury-ravaged squad and the dilemma of who to put in goal against the free-scoring Catalans, it will be an almost impossible mission. Expect plenty of goals here with Tito Vilanova's men still not assured of progression to the knock-out stages.