Barcelona - Spartak Moscow Preview: Messi & Co. hope for positive start at Camp Nou
New coach Tito Vilanova takes the helm of his first-ever European clash for the hosts, as the Catalan giants kick off their 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 line-up 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 favoured 4-2-3-1 line-up, 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 have lifted the Champions League/European Cup on four occasions, making them 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 are 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 semi-finals.
- 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 neither as a player or on the bench before arriving in Moscow.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 4-0 Spartak
- 17.06 %
FC Barcelona 8-0 Spartak
- 12.94 %
FC Barcelona 3-0 Spartak
- 12.51 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 20, 2012||Spartak 0 - FC Barcelona 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 19, 2012||FC Barcelona 3 - Spartak 2|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 26, 2013||Ajax 2 - FC Barcelona 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|Nov 10, 2013||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 4||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|-||Juan Manuel Insaurralde||Defender|
The Argentine wizard scored an incredible 14 goals last season in Barcelona's march to the Champions League semi-finals, and he will once more be the man to beat across Europe as he looks to keeping breaking records.
The Swedish midfielder has Champions League pedigree after several campaigns with former club Lyon. If he can marshal the midfield against Xavi and Co. Kallstrom could form a key part of Spartak's attempts to take something away from Camp Nou.
Barca have started the 2012-13 in storming fashion, winning all four Liga fixtures to take an early lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid. They should make it five on Wednesday, posing too much of an attacking threat for Spartak.