Champions League Preview: Barcelona - Spartak Moscow
New coach Tito Vilanova takes the helm of his first-ever European clash for the host, as the Catalan giant kicks off its Group G campaign against Unai Emery's charges.
By Daniel Edwards
Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Villa
Kombarov, Insaurralde, Suchy, Kombarov
McGeady, Ari, Bil'yov
Lionel Messi started from the bench in Barcelona's convincing win over Getafe at the weekend after his international exertions, but the Argentina captain is expected to reclaim his place in the starting lineup for the Catalans' 2012-13 Champions League bow. Fellow forward David Villa will also be in contention after scoring from the bench in Saturday's 4-1 victory.
Spartak coach Unai Emery must decide whether to keep faith with striker Artem Dzyuba as the focal point of his favored 4-2-3-1 lineup, particularly since substitute Emmanuel Emenike replaced him in the club's last run-out and scored to help the Russians to a 2-2 draw away to Kuban.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona has lifted the Champions League/European Cup on four occasions, making it the fifth-most successful club in the competition's history.
- The last triumph came in 2011, when goals from Pedro, Messi and Villa inspired a 3-1 victory in the final over Manchester United.
- The Catalans have finished as group winners on no less than 13 occasions since the Champions League began in 1992, one more than nearest rivals Real Madrid and Manchester United.
- Along with Wednesday's rivals, Spartak Moscow is one of only five teams to have won all six group clashes. The Russians achieved the feat in the 1995-96 season.
- Their best ever European run came in 1990-91, when Spartak lost to Marseille in the semifinals.
- Unai Emery is the first-ever Spaniard to coach at the club, having arrived in June 2012 after four years with Valencia. The trainer had never worked outside of Spain, either as a player or on the bench, before arriving in Moscow.
Top 3 Predictions
Barcelona 4-0 Spartak
- 17.06 %
Barcelona 8-0 Spartak
- 12.94 %
Barcelona 3-0 Spartak
- 12.51 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 20, 2012||Spartak 0 - Barcelona 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 19, 2012||Barcelona 3 - Spartak 2|
|Dec 17, 2013||Barcelona 3 - F.C. Cartagena 0||ESPC|
|Dec 14, 2013||Barcelona 2 - Villarreal 1||LIGA|
|Dec 11, 2013||Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|-||Juan Manuel Insaurralde||Defender|