An upset isn't out of the question as Barca encounter the Swiss 'sly fox' for a place in the quarter-finals...There were certainly a few wry smiles around Barcelona when bitter rivals Real
Madrid were dumped out by Lyon last week. Number one: Los Blancos won't be lifting the Champions League. And number two: (Florentino Perez look away now) there could be a Catalan victory parade in the Spanish capital come May 22. The holders must first negotiate a potentially tricky tie with VfB Stuttgart
before they can order the bunting.
A Shock On The Cards?
Die Schwaben gave Barca a fright in the first leg and had they taken their
chances would have taken a deserved lead to the Camp Nou. They'll need a repeat of their early goal in the same fixture in the 2007-08 group stage where they eventually ran out 3-1 losers. Stuttgart have improved dramatically under the stewardship of Christian Gross and the Swiss coach guided FC Basel to a 1-1 draw in Barcelona in last season's group stage. Lest we forget the German outfit were unbeaten away from home in the group phase, while Pep Guardiola's superstars slipped up against Rubin Kazan.
History On Barca's Side
The stats are firmly in favour of a home win. Looking at the Champions League
form over the past five seasons the group winners who draw the first leg away
from home go through 80% of the time. Barcelona drew 1-1 with Lyon in the first leg at the same stage last season then promptly thumped the French kings 5-2 at home. The Blaugrana have also won their last eight matches against Bundesliga sides, most recently battering Bayern Munich 4-0 last season on their home patch.
What We Can Expect
Goals. Barca have only been involved in three scoreless matches this season, two coming in the Champions League, while their German opponents have been in free-scoring form, netting 29 goals in their 13 matches since Gross took charge in December. That's an average of 2.2 goals per game. Carles Puyol and company take note.
Erik Brühlmann, Goal.com Germany
Christian Gross and his side are in a very comfortable position. After all, who's really expecting them to win against Barca, let alone eliminate them? So as long as they put up a good fight - even if things should get Messi - everything will be alright. Nobody forgot that Stuttgart had hit rock bottom of the Bundesliga only a few weeks ago and are now in the process of recovering. On the other hand, the bald guy from Zurich is sly as a fox, and you never know just what rabbit he'll be pulling out of his hat. There's a reason that Gross has built himself a reputation in Switzerland of being able to work miracles with seemingly outclassed sides. I wouldn't even be surprised if he'd order an all-out-attack strategy in the first 15 minutes of the game. This was a tactic that worked extremely well when he was in Basel.
* Titanbet reckon Leo Messi is the man to open the scoring tonight at 3/1 while he is 8/13 to get on the mark at any time.
* If you fancy Stuttgart to grind out a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes you'll get
generous odds of 14/1. A repeat of the 1-1 draw from a fortnight ago is 17/2.
* Barca are 11/1 to repeat their 4-0 demolition of Bayern last season with Titanbet. If you fancy Victor Valdes to keep a clean sheet Titanbet are offering odds of 1/2
* If you are feeling brave, a Stuttgart 1-0 win is priced 16/1 while they are 6/1 to progress to the quarter-finals.
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